By Kate Orlando, RHN
Depending on where you live, for most Canadian runners, winter running is part of the gig. In Ottawa, we get approximately 7 months of sun and rain and 5 months of snow and ice. As much as I love running in the snow, there are some days that present more challenges than others. Here are some winter running tips to ensure you arrive to race season well conditioned and injury free.
Check the weather
Canadian weather can be unpredictable and inconsistent. Before you head out check the temperature, assess what happened the night before and check out what’s to come. Be sure to set a temperature cut-off, for me its -28, but it will be different for everybody. Make sure that you are comfortable with the conditions before heading out.
Have a back-up plan
If the weather is not great, have a back-up plan so you don’t miss out on your training. Whether you go to the gym, take a class or do some video workouts at home, have something that you can do if you can’t get outside.
Know your route
Winter is not the time to be trail blazing. Take advantage of summer weather to find a variety of routes that you will be familiar with when they’re covered in snow. If you know the route, you’ll be aware of some problems areas to look out for: bridge seams, manhole covers, puddles of water or ice under the snow, and areas that don’t get ploughed.
This might take some time to perfect, but you’ll figure out what works best for you. How many layers, wind or water protection, grips/no grips, facemask or goggles, etc. (you’ll figure it out).
Run during daylight hours
Yes, you can wear a headlamp and go out before dawn or after dusk, but beams can be very distracting to other runners. Their light does not do the unevenness of a snowy path justice, and could mislead your stride. If you are running in the dark, aim your beam towards the ground and wear reflectors.
Keep your water and electrical devices close to your body so they don’t freeze
You don’t want to lose your music or timer, but you also want to ensure your phone is available for emergencies. I keep my phone on my arm, inside my jacket, and I leave my water in my car and circle back for water breaks. Some runners keep their CamelBak or water bottle/belt inside their clothes, which works too. PS don’t forget to stay hydrated!
Keep your music low
It is important that you can hear what is going on around you, not just for your safety, but also for the safety of everyone using the path/trail. Keep you headphones at a volume that allows you to hear passing patrons, cars and animals.
Winter is not the time break records
Safety is more important than breaking records or logging distance/time. Adjust your running style, speed and routine to accommodate the weather. You have 7 months of glorious, prime weather for crushing your previous personal best, so be patient, stay healthy and get to race season injury free!
If you're interested in booking a nutrition consult with Kate, or how she can help you accomplish your fitness goals, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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