Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Running

It's that time of the year in Chicago (and the rest of northern North America) where people forget about outdoor activities and head to the indoor gym. Treadmills and other cardio machines are packed. I don't blame you, the gross snowy slush and bone-chilling wind are a major turn-off. It took me a long time after moving to the Midwest several years ago to finally start running outside in the winter. It actually helped to live in Washington, DC, for a winter because it wasn't as bad as Chicago and I signed up for a spring race and had to run through the mild winter. Since then, I've been running through the winter but avoiding snow. This year, my goal is to run through all of the weather!

Reasons why outdoor winter running is good for you

1. Cold weather is ideal running weather. After that first bitter cold mile, your body is warmed up but cooling off quickly. Warm weather running places much more heat stress on your body. You're able to run longer distances more easily than in summer. For me, a 5-mile run in winter seems like a 3-mile run in summer.

2. Boost your immune system. Getting used to the cold and challenging your body boosts your immune system so you're less likely to get a cold.

3. Battle SAD. If you're like me, then being indoors all day and barely 8 hours of daylight really makes the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) kick in. Running outside, especially in the middle of the day when it's warmest and the sun might be out, is a great way to kick the winter blues.

How to run outside the winter

1. Gear. The key to being able to run outside is the proper clothing and number of layers. The number of layers that you're comfortable with comes with practice but generally dress for 20 F degrees warmer. I personally love all of the Nike winter running gear. It's an investment but cheaper than joining a gym with treadmills for the winter. Plus, it will last year after year. You should also always wear a headband or hat and gloves. Wear a scarf to cover your neck and mouth when it's below 20 F. Finally, make sure you're wearing something reflective if you're running in the morning or evening.

2. Shoes. Yes, there is such a thing as winter running shoes, especially if there's snow on the ground. The last thing you want is wet feet in the winter. Be sure to find shoes that are not mesh and are water resistant. Reflective parts also helps. I have the Nike Free Shield and they are the perfect balance of protection agains the elements and flexibility for natural running form. Plus, they have a cool reflective print (see below)!

3. Warm up inside. Do some burpees, jumping jacks, or whatever to get your hear rate going before you step outside. If you're doing some body weight or lifting work with your workout, do it before the run.

4. Sign up for a spring race. There's nothing like a looming half-marathon in April or May to keep you motivated. Running 10 miles on a treadmill won't prepare you for race day.

5. Join a running group. Running buddies can also keep you motivated to get outside! The run club at NTC Lincoln Park is free and I lead on Friday mornings at 6:30 am! Some of us ladies from last week below.

Do you plan to run outside this winter?

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  1. I'm in the same boat as you - Run through all weather! I do get concern about ice on the road and find myself going slower.

  2. I came across these to prepare me for all weather running. Haven't tried them but they look like a good solution for the snowpocalypse! https://www.yaktrax.com/product/run

  3. I've heard of those! So far my shoes did good in the snow. I won't go out if it's more than 6 inches or so haha.

  4. Ice is definitely dangerous and you have to go slow. But Chicago is pretty good about putting salt everywhere. Good thing it doesn't snow huge amounts here!

  5. So bummed I missed the friday run last week...I could've been on the blog!! lol

  6. I hope to see you this Friday! Don't let the cold scare you away :)


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