Running column: Mark Armstrong reveals his top five tips for runners to beat the cold, wet weather this winter
Running columnist MARK ARMSTRONG offers his advice on the best way to combat the cold, wet weather....
It was only as we walked towards the start line of the East Anglian Children’s Hospice Santa Run at Eaton Park that we realised we hadn’t dressed my daughter, Lara, appropriately for the freezing conditions.
She was layered up to the maximum along with a hat, scarf and gloves but as you looked down to her feet you could see her little running trainers getting wet as we trudged through the puddles. As parent fails go, this was a good one.
As the sleet continued to fall it was abundantly clear this was going to be a long 2km and only the promise of a medal, meeting Father Christmas and a dry pair of socks and trainers (which were thankfully in the car) got Lara through.
We’ve all had things go wrong during runs – the hope is that they happen in training rather than in races – but as you become more experienced as a runner (or parent for that matter) you learn to make fewer mistakes.
So whilst I chastise myself for forgetting Lara’s wellies I thought this week I could at least share with you how I deal with the cold, wet conditions we’ve been experiencing over the past week.
Here are my top five tips…
1. Run for the second mile
When you start those few steps of a run and feel that icy blast, everything inside you is begging you to step back into the warmth. But this is probably a good thing – if you dress correctly, then you’re going to feel cold for that first mile. If you don’t, you’re likely to overheat and this is where it’s important to layer up. If you can, run a loop of your house/car for the first mile so you can dump an item of clothing and carry on.
2. Be seen
Chances are as a runner that you’ve made your peace with getting the odd strange look from non runners. It’s time to put any residual self consciousness aside and make sure everyone can see you when you’re out running. If that means wearing a fluorescent pink top or lighting yourself up like a mobile Christmas tree then that’s what you’ve got to do. Running clothing doesn’t have to be expensive…it just needs to be comfortable and make you stand out.
3. Wear gloves
At the beginning of this cold snap I was heading out the door when I contemplated whether I needed gloves. In truth I knew that I did but I couldn’t be bothered to go back inside the house and find them – big mistake.
For some reason my hands are especially susceptible to the cold and it’s always the first thing that goes numb. The science behind it is that as you work harder your body diverts blood away from your extremities to your vital organs. In snort – your fingers, nose and ears suffer and it can ruin your run.
I know it’s another thing to find before your run…but it’s worth it!
4. Change quickly
This is too much information but when I run I sweat…it doesn’t matter if it’s blazing sunshine or minus 20 I’ll be red as a beetroot and look exhausted…even if I’m not (honest).
But as soon as my run is over I get chilly very quickly as the sweat on my clothing turns cold – it’s horrible. So I find it best to get changed as quickly as I can and make sure I’ve got some warm, dry clothing with me if I’ve driven somewhere to start my run.
5. Use that newspaper
There have been some pretty big puddles around this week and sometimes they’re impossible to avoid. Most running shoes aren’t waterproof and, if you haven’t got trail shoes like me, then you’re going to have to suffer it. Make sure you wear socks that wick moisture away from your skin and when you take your shoes off stuff them with newspaper to help dry them out. It’s been scientifically proven that copies of the Eastern Daily Press and the Norwich Evening News are best for this (may not necessarily be true)…