Key Rules For Making Those Winter Runs A Success.
If you’re anywhere in the Northern hemisphere, chances are you are already doing (some of) your running in the dark. And it’ll only get worse! Add dropping temperatures in the mix and you know we’ve hit winter.
While winter is theoretically ideal to put in the groundwork for the next season, it can become quite a challenge to actually make it happen and get all your runs in. Whether you are aiming for your next big goal, or because you just love running and want to maintain doing so: winter has changed the rules, so adapt you must.
EIRIK HAUGSNES, A former national junior cross-country ski champion in Norway, has honed his natural talents to become one of the best mountain runners in Europe. He remains an outstanding skier as well as an excellent uphill stair racer.
Here’s his take on beating the dark and cold.
Dress not to impress but to reduce the risk
Running outside in winter throws up clothing conundrums. In my experience, plummeting temperatures and frozen terrain increase fatigue in the muscles and put greater strain on the tendons, especially the Achilles. To reduce the risk of injury, you must be careful to pick the right clothing for the conditions. These are my top five suggestions:
1. Cut the feet out of a pair of old woollen sock and wear the upper section that remains as extra protection for your ankle and Achilles tendon. If you suffer stiff knees in the cold, find another pair of old woollen socks – you know you’ve got them at the back of your cupboard – and do the same again.
2. When running in the snow, use an ankle gaiter. This will form a barrier, keeping the snow off your ankles and Achilles tendon while also preventing any debris getting into your shoe.
3. Always wear a hat or headband, plus a wrag around your neck. I often wear two wrags – one around my neck and the other a little higher to cover my ears, cheeks and chin.
4. Your baselayer will be your best friend. Opt for Merino wool.
5. Dress in three layers: wool (next to skin); fleece/down/Primaloft (second layer); windproof (top layer).
Avoid being like Bambi on ice
Good footwear is as important in winter as it is in summer. ………. This will ensure you get the grip you need, otherwise you will spend more time on your backside rather than your feet!
Invest in a good headtorch
Running alone with a headtorch in the forests and mountains is a wonderful experience. Nowadays there’s a lot of great headtorches on the market, many of which are lightweight yet still beam out a light powerful enough so you can run confidently without really having to break stride. For trail running, I’d recommend a headtorch with between 200-600 lumens of light. ……….
Respect the mountains – especially in winter
It’s vitally important to take precautions when moving in the mountains at all times, especially in winter. The weather can change quickly and you need to be prepared for all eventualities, including the possibility of having to seek shelter. Never underestimate the mountains, especially in winter. Hazards can also hide underneath the snow! I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve walked through seemingly safe snow only to hit or scrap my tibia bone against a sharp stone. It is only a great deal of luck that has saved me from breaking my leg. My tip is to read the terrain carefully. Take your time, go slower than usual and look ahead at where you’re putting your feet.
I’d also recommend always carrying a backpack containing extra clothing. As a minimum I’d pack: windbreaker with hood, wind pants, extra insulation jacket (down/Primaloft), wind gloves, headtorch, map and compass, some supplies of food, extra gloves, thick hat and wind bag/emergency blanket. It sounds a lot I know, but it could save your life. ………
And last but not least: even though this is the cell phone age, make sure somebody knows you’re out – and roughly where.
Right: Put on your layers and RUN!