With temperatures quickly approaching their annual low in the northern hemisphere, running can become quite a hassle. Especially during the pandemic, athletes need to put a special focus on keeping the body‘s immune system intact. That’s why, this year, you might especially follow these guidelines:
1. The Right Clothing
When it comes to choosing appropriate running gear, for once the principle “less is more” doesn‘t apply. On my winter runs, I see way too many people dressed in thin or short clothing. While that itself doesn‘t pose that much of a problem if one exercises end-to-end, it does become one as soon as these runners take a break to maybe wait at a stoplight or insert a brief stretching session. Particularly after strenuous efforts, the body fails to provide sufficient warnings of hypothermia, all while a weakened immune system tries to fight various pathogens. As a general rule of thumb, I‘d recommend wearing at least as many layers of clothing, as you need to feel comfortable when stepping outside. At no point should you be freezing or simply “enduring” the cold weather.
2. Minimizing Breaks
This piece of advice directly links to the previous one. On a winter run, you should always try to minimize breaks. That includes being even more mindful about managing your physical capabilities and making realistic assessments of your current fitness. There‘s no use in heading out for a 10-mile run if that requires taking a break after 5. Also, try to choose a course with only a few stoplights and little need to cross major roads.
3. Do a Proper Warm-Up
Proper warm-ups are the part of our training we all do too little of. Although muscular problems rarely arise during the summer, not stretching for at least a few minutes before a winter run can prove to be particularly fatal. That is because in cold environments muscles regularly tighten up. And even though most of the time this physical reaction does little to no harm, it can occasionally lead to painful cramps. Every runner has probably gone through that experience: The calf for instance starts twitching and then suddenly contracts, causing a sharp attack of pain. To many, it happens over and over again during the course of the winter. In order to avoid this unpleasant situation, take enough time before or after each run to stretch all the muscles that are subject to a particular strain.
I hope you found these three pieces of advice to be useful. Any feedback and all additional suggestions are greatly appreciated.