Cold Faces and Good Paces

December 13th, 2013 | By Lindsey Ebert No Comments

Rec_Steps_And_Stride

I have never been a ‘treadmill person.’ I would prefer a walk or run through scenic trails over running in place and staring into the parking lot of my local gym any day. However, frigid months and even hearing the word ‘snow’ would have me reconsidering my reluctance to running indoors in an instant.

Although Georgia winters are considered mild, it is still important to take the necessary steps to stay warm and safe during colder months.

Here are some tips for how to dress this winter:

  • Choose the right fabric. Your base layer for any winter running outfit should be ‘moisture wicking.’ In other words, your clothing should draw sweat away from the body in order to effectively keep you warm and dry. Merino wool is one example of a moisture wicking material. According to Dustin Shinholser, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Athens, “Really anything wicking material is better than cotton. Cotton holds in moisture, which is that last thing you want when it’s cold out. There are definitely some wicking materials out there that are better than others. To an extent, price is an indicator of the quality of the materials and the craftsmanship of the product.”
  • Layer, layer, layer. Wear a light, zip-up jacket over your base layer. This jacket should be wind and water resistant in case of snow or sleet. There is no need for heavy, everyday winter coats while running outdoors, as these can be bulky and even cause you to become too warm. A moisture-wicking base layer and wind-proof jacket should be suitable for days between 10 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Don’t forget your head and hands. 10% of the heat your body produces escapes from your head and up to 30% through your extremities. “Moisture wicking gloves/mittens and hats may be the most important piece of winter apparel.  The warmer you can keep your extremities, the less your body will have to work to heat those areas and instead be able to focus on your core and vital organs,” says Dustin.
  • Compression. Another trick of the trade is compression. Your legs naturally generate a lot of heat while running. This is why some runners (including myself) will continue to run in shorts despite colder weather. However, as the cold becomes more extreme, many runners and walkers will switch to compression pants or half tights. These tights are made of synthetic material. The element of compression allows the body to store more heat.
  • Stay bright. With fewer hours of daylight, it is vital to stay visible to vehicles during the winter months. “Bright colors are great but having actual reflective material is what’s going to get you noticed. If you glance in the mirror before you head out and you think that you’re ‘too bright,’ than you’ve probably got just the right amount of reflectivity on,” Dustin says.

Now that you know how to dress in order to keep up your outdoor training during the winter months, don’t forget about other basic safety. Always be aware of ice that could be hidden beneath snow or leaves. Sidewalks and streets may become slick. Also, don’t forget that warm clothing doesn’t replace the need for your normal warm-up routine. Warm muscles are more flexible and less prone to injury.

You can find cold weather running gear at sports specialty stores, including Fleet Feet Sports and the Athens Running Company store, both located in Five Points of Athens.

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