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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Winter Running

For those of you looking to add 30 minutes or so of cardio a few times a week, don't be allergic to considering a run around the block at night while the kids set the dinner table. Winter running can be a nice change from the summer sun and being out in the cold elements gives you an extra glow of inner toughness.

A few additional pieces of equipment are a good idea when running in winter: 

Wear a hat. Even if the temps aren't too bad, a hat is a good idea. You can always take it off and stuff it in a pocket but chances are you'll wear it the whole time. Make sure you can pull it down over your ears, otherwise wear ear protectors too.

Wear windproof mitts. Your hands will sweat so you'll likely only need the one layer. I have an old pair of windproof mitts from the Running Room that are a snug fit around the wrist (essential) and big through the palm to accommodate another layer underneath (that I never wear).

Wear a reflective vest. I'm guilty of not doing this every time I go out at night but at least I own one. 

Wearing wind pants over your sweat pants can be the difference between being miserable and thoroughly enjoying your time away from house and home. Find a light pair; their purpose is to act as a windbreak. It's your sweats underneath that keep you warm.

Lousy conditions = better workout. Snow and slush that fills your treads and pile up around your feet means poor traction so you'll have to work a little harder to make it around your usual route that feels easy in the summer. Winter winds can whip across open areas and make you count the seconds until the next turn. Don't think about pace. As long as your working, you're doing your body good.  

Do your lunges after your run. I always do 2 sets of 20, walking a bit between sets. Head up, eyes forward, hands on your waist or arms bent at your sides. Lunges are a great way to stretch, build leg muscle and strengthen that core. It's tricky keeping your balance and it's your core muscles that stop you from falling over. 

Walk home. This is a must. The worst thing you can do is run to the bottom of your driveway, hurry inside and sit down to a big meal. Stop your run 200 to 300 metres from home, do your sets of lunges and walk the rest of the way. You won't freeze.

Leave your shoes upside down to dry. Anyone who has put on wet running shoes when headed out the door knows how awful it feels. Make sure it doesn't happen to you. The treads are the last to dry so leave your shoes upside down so the dampness is pulled away from the treads. If you have space in the kitchen, lean your shoes against the fridge by the vent.

Winter running does involve putting on a few more things but it's worth the effort. Feeling the cold winter wind on your face when the rest of you is warm and working is a magical combination. That inner glow goes a long way to helping you cope with the less pleasant things in life. 

Like when you get home and the kids tell you it's your turn to do the dishes.

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