Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November Running

A few years ago, before I got serious with my running, I always felt it was important to run at least once every month. So this would mean once the weather turned cold and the snow began to fall, I would make sure to at least get in one run. Of course, this would mean I would only pick the best of the month and I felt I was really doing something. The rest of the month would be at the gym on the treadmill. Usually at the time I would walk for about 30 minutes.

Then I made that change in my life and decided to become a serious runner.

This meant I would be an all-season runner. Not only would running take place in the nicer times of year, but I would have to start considering running in less then favourable conditions, in particular cold weather. I still don't run in the rain, but that has more to do with a philosophy of creature comfort then anything else.

I'm writing this because it seems winter has not only come early, it's also going to rear its very ugly head a few more times before the Winter Solstice. What I've learned is, just like everything else, running in the winter means a whole different style of running.

There are three concerns when it comes to winter running.

  • Surface Conditions
  • Less Daylight
  • Weather Conditions

    You can say, makes sense and 'of course'. For the first condition, the problem is snow and ice. While the City I live has ordinances for clearing sidewalks, it seems to be left up to interpretation. Plus if the run day is right after a storm, then you've still got problems. I'm trying to think of what's the worse, ice or snow. I think it has to be ice, since the whole slipping concerns. Snow is more of a problem in that it messes with the flow of your running. I've come to realize that running in snow means a slower speed. Traction and just trying to get through it causes the slowdowns.

    The days get shorter, that means a run that starts with some sun, and that's rare because the late fall/winter is a time of more clouds than sun. Compound with it the fact that it could snow at any time and the snow could be light flakes or a snow storm. Surface problems, darkness and weather makes it a strong challenge.

    Sort of touched this the last point, plus there's those great cold temperatures.

    Here's what I've learned when dealing with these conditions.

    Surface- the need is flexibility. Understand that I may not be able to run all the way on the sidewalk and this might mean a few detours onto the road or the other side, if the walkways look better. There are times when the road is just as bad, and the only clear spots are more in the middle of the road. For obvious reason, I would only run in the middle on very quiet residential roads. Otherwise I stay as close to the edge as possible. This also means being even more aware of cars then ever before. It's always easier for me to see them, then for drivers to see me. More then any other time of year, its important to keep eyes forward and looking for problems. I've also taken to wearing spikes on my shoes, they do give more grip and help with running on the ever changing conditions of winter.

    Less Daylight -I have my reflector vest. It's bright orange and has reflector tape on it. May not look pretty but I running to be seen and not to make a fashion statement. I've always felt running means not really caring what I wear. I haven't tried any lights yet. Perhaps later this winter.

    Weather Conditions- everything depends upon this point. In the winter, more then any time of year the weather can be volatile. Yes it could be sunny but then the clouds roll in, the winds pick up and a storm hits. Plus the temperatures begin to drop and can be nasty. There's that old adage that says 'dress so you're cool in the parking lot', never a problem in the winter. With the 'winter from hell' we had last year, staying cool, not the problem, getting warm was the issue. The simple way to deal with running in cold weather is layers. I'm not going to say you can't wear enough because you can. Usually doubling up or a triple layer is sufficient. Also it's important to remember that when cold the body doesn't pump as much blood to the extremities as usual. Now for us men, that word 'extremity' can refer to all sorts of body parts. So double up and keep the boys happy. Just sayin'. One problem I do have is covering the mouth and nose. Since I wear glasses, one problem is lenses fogging up or freezing up. I'm still working on that one, I've tried different things and have a new thing to wear around the mouth. As for a hat, I have a toque that says "This seemed like a good idea three months ago". Still hold true. Wearing a jacket is good, since zipper can act as a temperature regulator. Getting too warm, just unzip a bit. Also weather conditions means flexibility. Once I had planned to do my usual 10k, weather was sunny and very very cold. Between the cold, the frosty and icy glasses, I just got 5km in, and a warning from family to never do that again.

    Winter running can pleasant. Plus being able to run when the conditions are not that good does enhance your stud score, not usually with loved ones because they have long dismissed you as crazy. It can be good to run when its cold, it does get you outside and will help with attitude. Plus with all the food that we eat at this time of year, it helps control the diet.

    So yes I will be outside running.

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