Bring on the beautiful fall weather! The crisp Autumn air, the golds, reds, and oranges of changing leaves, the cool weather perfect for running.
Fall seems to have it all when you’re a runner, but as the days shorten and the temperature drops, it’s important to keep these healthy and safety tips in mind:
Cold Weather Reminders for Runners
It doesn’t have to be freezing for your body to feel impacted by the cold when running. Even moderately cold temperatures can be dangerous when combined with wind and moisture (from outside rain or snow, or your own sweat). Wearing layers helps you stay warm before, during, and after a run. Aim to wear synthetic materials (not cotton) that better wick away moisture and allow less air through while you’re working out outside; this might include sporting thermal underwear or tights under wind-breaking pants, for example.
Make Sure People Can See You
Daylight savings time is right around the corner which means your cooler forecasts will be accompanied by shorter days with the sun setting in some places as early as 4:30pm come December. If your cold weather run is keeping you out after dark, don’t forget to wear bright and reflective clothing that helps other people on the road, like drivers, see and avoid you. Upgrade your running gear with a lightweight headlamp or flashing running lights for added visibility.
Check the Weather Before You Run
Hopping outside sunny day after sunny day this summer may have gotten you in the habit of not checking the weather forecast before a run, but it’s a different story in the fall. Inclement weather can sneak up on you very fast, including hail storms and freezing rain. Use apps like Weather.com or DarkSky to track up to date forecasts for the day and get alerts about rough weather heading your way.
Know Where to Find Shelter
In the event that your run is interrupted by a bad storm, snow, or other dangerous conditions, have a plan for where to seek shelter if far from home. Carry your smartphone with you in case you need to call for a ride, and use wooded areas to protect yourself from high winds that arise.
Did you know that shivering is literally your body’s way of cuing muscles to rapidly contract to warm you up? Shivering is the frontline indicator that your body is losing heat. Hypothermia occurs when your core body temperatures drops to less than 95 degrees. Unless addressed quickly, hypothermia can lead to confusion, slow or shallow breathing, drowsiness, weak pulse and even limit your organ function.
Warm Up & Recover Quick
You might warm up, literally, and start sweating quickly on your cold weather run, but when you finish, it’s the moisture in your clothes and on your skin that will rapidly cool you down. Make sure to get out of cold, wet clothes immediately and put on warm layers to increase your body’s temperature. If you are wearing a brace for a knee injury or other orthotic aid when running, make sure you remove it and allow it to dry out before wearing it again.
Avoid Road Running In Bad Conditions
Snowy, icy roads aren’t just dangerous for running, but for cars which can slide and collide in a moment’s notice. A driver’s impaired ability to maneuver their automobile combined with your proximity to the road when running on a sidewalk or shoulder is a recipe for disaster. If you are worried about keeping up your routine during bad weather try cross-training with effective activities like indoor swimming, rowing, or dancing.
Don’t forget about your fingers, nose, ears, and face when you’re layering up for a cold weather run. These extremities are some of the first to lose heat on your body, and frostbite can sneak up on you quicker than you think. Wear gloves, hats or earmuffs, and even a scarf wrapped around your neck to keep moisture out and heat in. And don’t forget to seal in heat and moisture with a sweat-resistant moisturizer and chapstick. You can even use petroleum jelly on areas prone to chapping or chafing.
You might feel less thirsty running in the fall compared to running under the blazing summer sun, but you must remember to drink just as much water as you normally would. Hydrating properly before, during, and after a run helps your body maintain the delicate water balance it needs to function properly and regulate your temperature. In very cold weather, slow down to drink during a run to avoid spilling unnecessary water on yourself or your clothes.
-By Joe Flemming from ViveHealth