Below is a blog post I wrote for Cape Cod Rehab’s Cape Cod Marathon Training Tips. To see the original, visit the Mashpee Fitness blog.
The days are getting shorter and the mornings are getting cooler, darker and damper. You’ve been training hard all summer and now is not the time to lose motivation and get stuck in a slump. Even though fall brings change, it doesn’t mean that your running has to suffer.
Here are some tips to help you transition into fall and prepare for winter running…
Invest in a good jacket.
Look for a lightweight breathable jacket that is windproof and offers some protection against the rain. This type of jacket will pull moisture away from your skin to keep you dry.
Dress in layers.
A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it were 15-20 degrees warmer. It’s important that you don’t overheat because that can lead to excess sweating and chills. Layer up so once you warm up you can start discarding layers. Gloves and mittens are great accessories as a high percentage of heat escapes through your hands and feet and can easily be tucked away in a pocket or in your pants.
Repeat after me… Cotton is evil. No, seriously. There is nothing good about running in cotton. Find a good moisture wicking base layer as cotton will only trap sweat and keep it close to your skin making you cold and miserable.
If you plan to keep running through the winter, Yaktrax (or a similar brand/product) is a must. Great for running in the snow or icy conditions, you can put them on right over your normal running shoes and head out the door with confidence.
See and be seen.
As we keep losing precious daylight hours, you may find yourself running in the dark. Make sure you have a headlamp or knuckle lights along with plenty of reflective gear to stay safe.
Run on the left side of the road.
It may sound like common sense to most runners but some still just don’t get it. Run against traffic to see cars coming at you. If a driver doesn’t see you, at least you see them and can jump out of the way if necessary.
Leave your headphones at home.
Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Music is often a major distractions and some of you can’t run without it but in many situations (dark, icy, etc.) it’s much safer to save them for the treadmill.
Run with an ID/ RoadID.
In a very unfortunate event that something may happen to you while out on a run, make sure you have an ID or some way to be identified. I personally love the company RoadID—they make “Personal Identification Gear”—and I’ve made sure every runner in my family owns one.
Adjust your workout.
Your training plan may say one thing but Mother Nature is saying another thing. It’s ok to take an extra day off or adjust your workout in horrible conditions. Trust me when I say it’s not always worth it. Find yourself taking a lot of days off? Try running on a treadmill or even pool running!
Hydrate like it’s the summer.
Replenishing fluids is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer. It’s easy to forget the need to hydrate in cooler and even freezing temperatures but your body is losing a lot of moisture trying to keep you warm.
Don’t skip sun protection.
The UV rays reflect off the water and snow and can cause sun damage to your skin and eyes even in the colder months. Always wear sunscreen, lip balm with SPF and a good pair of sunglasses.
Cooler weather means increased layers. This also can mean increased sweating and increased chaffing. Find a product you love and trust like Body Glide or 2Toms to use in those problem areas so there are no surprises when you hop in the shower after that long run. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about…
Shield yourself against the wind.
Wind can make cold days feel even colder. Heat escapes more rapidly and it becomes harder to generate heat. Shield yourself against the wind with a lightweight jacket. It will pull moisture away from your skin to keep you dry. I also love breathable products like BUFF that you can wear around your neck and pull over your face when running into the wind.
Join a club or a group.
Running buddies are great for accountability and support. Visit your local specialty running store and ask if they hold weekly group runs. You can also search the RRCAwebsite to “Find a Running Club” in your area.
Sign up for some fun races.
During your marathon or half marathon training, it’s good to throw in some shorter races to test your fitness. After your goal race, get a few more fun races on the schedule to keep you going. I love a good themed holiday race like a Turkey Trot or Jingle Jog.
Remind yourself that it could be worse.
We all know what’s coming. Take advantage of the good days. Don’t make excuses now—get out the door and get after it.
Good luck out there! Stay safe & happy running!