Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cold Weather Running Tips

Just because the weather outside has grown cold and the sun goes down early doesn't mean you have to give up your running routine. Running in the winter may help you shake off the winter blues, boost your energy levels, and get you started early on bathing suit season. Here are some tips to maximize your winter running experience:
  • Dress in thin layers that wick moisture. Your first layer should be made of a synthetic material such as polypropylene because it wicks moisture away from your body. Cotton should be avoided because it holds moisture in, therefore keeping your body wet. An outer layer of nylon or Gore-Tex will help protect you against wind and precipitation, while letting out heat and moisture to prevent overheating and chilling. On very cold days wear a middle layer of polar fleece.
  • Protect your hands and feet. More than 30% of your body heat escapes through your hands and feet. If you're running on a mild day, wear running gloves that wick moisture away. On colder days wear mittens, as your fingers will share their body heat. Mittens also have room for disposable heat packets. For your feet, wear a wicking sock liner under polar fleece or wool socks. Make sure your running shoes have room for these extra layers however, as a tight fit may cause blisters and callusing. 
  • Watch that temperature and wind chill. Strong wind will penetrate your clothes and remove the insulating warm air around you. The act of running actually creates a wind chill because it increases air movement around your body. If the temperature is below 0 degrees or the wind chill is below minus 20, run on the treadmill instead.
  • Don't overdress. While I advise dressing in layers, don't overdress. If you're warm and comfortable when you start out on your run, you will quickly begin to sweat. When first beginning your run you should be a little chilly. Hint: dress for weather 20 degrees warmer than it is outside. 
  • Cover that noggin'. Another 40% of body heat is lost through the head, so wearing a hat will help prevent heat loss. On days that are really cold, wear a face mask or scarf over your mouth to warm the air you breathe. 
  • Frostbite: for Jack Frost, not you. If your fingers, toes, ears, and nose begin to numb, monitor those appendages. If you notice a patch of cold, hard, pale skin, you may have frostbite. Get inside immediately and seek emergency care if the frostbite does not go away.
  • Talk to your primary care physician. Some people with heart or lung conditions should not run in the cold weather. Your doctor will advise you on your specific needs.
  • Run into the wind. If you start by running into the wind, the wind will be at your back on your return. 
  • Drink up! Even though it's not warm out, your body will still heat up and lose fluids through sweat. Cold air also has a drying effect, which increases the risk of dehydration. Drink before, during, and after your running workout. 
  • Get out of wet clothes. If you get wet from snow, sleet, or rain during your run, remove your wet clothes as soon as you get home. Staying in wet clothes increases your risk for hypothermia, which is characterized by intense shivering, loss of coordination, slurred speech, and fatigue. If you have any of these symptoms seek medical treatment immediately. 
  • Put on shades. The glare from snow can cause snow blindness, so put on some sunglasses to prevent running into a drift. 
  • Be visible. It gets dark early in the winter months, so if you're going out running at dusk or dark, make sure you're wearing light colors and reflective gear.
  • Take it easy when it's freezing. Start slowly- running without warming up puts you at risk for pulling a muscle in the cold weather. 
  • Remember sunscreen. It's possible to get a sunburn in the winter! Sunlight reflects off snow, so lather up before heading out. 
If you are a runner and have a foot problem, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Medicine Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington
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