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Do’s and don’ts for winter running

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As a runner, what should you do to enjoy your trainings in cold circumstances? And what should you avoid?

Do! Wear layers

In cold temperatures, it’s best to wear multiple pieces of clothing in layers. A little bit of air will be trapped between the layers, and this has proven to be the best insulation. Another advantage of this choice is that you can quickly take off a piece of clothing should you get too hot. Running clothing usually works via a three-layer system. Your shirt is the base layer that lets sweat flow away. Next, you wear an intermediate layer that traps heat: a sweater. Finally, a vest acts as an upper layer to protect you from rain and wind.

Do! Wear a cap or a hat

At low temperatures, wear headgear, as you lose a lot of body heat through your head.

Do! Pay extra attention to your warming-up

In winter, it is particularly dangerous to start working out with cold muscles. By paying extra attention to your warming-up, you can save yourself from a lot of injury. Watch out for splashing water, as the sudden cold may cause cramps in your calves.

Do! Protect your nose, ears and mouth

Dry, cold wind can seriously put your skin to the test. Try to protect the body parts that are not covered by clothing, such as your nose and ears. You can do so by applying Vaseline, for instance. Make sure to use a product without water, otherwise you risk freezing your skin. Inhaling extremely cold air can irritate your respiratory system. By wearing a bandana or a scarf in front of your mouth, the air gets warmed up a little before you inhale it.

Don’t! Wear cotton clothing

Cotton clothing absorbs a lot of humidity, which causes an unpleasant sticky feeling on your skin and makes your body cool off quickly. Therefore, it is best to choose breathable fabrics. Your clothing should let sweat through, but keep rain and wind outside.

Don’t! Forget to drink

In winter, you’ll feel less thirsty than in summery conditions. Nonetheless, you’ll still be losing a lot of fluids when exercising in the cold, which you’ll need to replace. Drinks at room temperature are best, since they are absorbed the quickest. Warm drinks cause your stomach to empty slower, but make you feel warm. This will make you feel good after an effort. A glass of mulled wine is a bad idea to get warm after your run. Alcohol slows down your recovery and expands the blood vessels in your skin, which actually causes you to cool off quicker.

Don’t! Dry your shoes near the heater

Not only your body, but also your shoes take a beating during bad weather. To dry your shoes more quickly, it’s best to stuff them with crumpled newspaper. If your shoes are very wet, you’ll need to repeat this process a few times. However, it’s a very bad idea to place your shoes close to the heating to get them to dry quicker. The material your shoes are made of is very sensitive to high temperatures.

Don’t! Linger too long after you finish

The euphoria after a good race will make you want to stay and have a chat in the finish zone. This is not a great idea, as the sweat will cool you off very quickly. It’s better to have a shower right away. If there are no showers, try to dry yourself as much as possible and put on a dry shirt.

Article written by DIRK VAN THUYNE (Running.be)

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