With winter settling in, memories of last year’s cold, wet and windy runs start flashing back far too often. So, to help you battle the winter blues and keep your running goals on track we spoke to podiatrist David Hudson to get his best tips and tricks to keep you moving no matter how low the temperature goes!
One thing that consistently changes during winter, along with the temperature, is the conditions of your running surface. Whether you run on the pavement, around ovals and parks, or trails from The Tan to the Dandenong Ranges; winter will likely affect how you interact with these surfaces.
With the increased rainfall in cooler months, you should expect some deterioration to your running surface. If you are used to running on gravel tracks (such as The Tan) it is not unusual to see streams of water cutting into the once flat compact track. If it is more off-road trails you’re used to, expect those to turn to mud when the bad weather hits.
This is where trail or hybrid (road/trail) running shoes come into their own, with the key difference being the additional traction on the sole of the runner compared to an everyday running shoe. Shoes such as the Asics GT-2000 Trail or Hoka One One Challenger ATR make great Hybrid options as they feel much like a running shoe with only a moderate increase in outsole traction. Perfect for wet gravel tracks. Muddy trails however, require something with maximum traction such as the Brooks Cascadia, Mizuno Daichi or Saucony Peregrine.
Ovals and parks will likely hold the additional water within their grassy surface which can quickly leave your feet soaking wet in regular shoes. Many brands offer Gortex version of popular runners; such as the Mizuno Wave Rider GTX and Brooks Ghost GTX. Both feature a waterproof upper and a small amount of added traction compared to their road counterpart; to keep you dry and prevent slipping on those wet patches.
Trails and tracks might not be the only thing to deteriorate in wet weather, as shoes can often suffer as well! If you didn’t know, the midsoles in our shoes which provide us with all that cushioning are essentially blocks of EVA foam and like the foam sponges you’ll find in the kitchen they can absorb vast amounts of liquid. Keep this in mind if your shoes begin to feel heavy or not as plush as they once were, especially if they have been exposed to a lot of wet runs or walks as that foam can deteriorate just like the foam in your kitchen sponge if it sits in water for too long.
It might seem simple enough to just throw on an extra layer or two when the temperature drops, but there are ways to maximise your temperature regulation.
Keeping dry: whether it’s from the rain or your sweat, keeping dry should be your primary goal when running in colder weather. A breathable lightweight running jacket is perfect for when the rain hits, but it is the moisture from your sweat that is going to be the sneaky enemy in the cold.
Try to avoid heavy cotton items: as snug as they may feel, they will only hold the moisture against your skin making you even colder. Instead, aim for moisture wicking materials that will keep your skin dry from the inside out. Compression tights are a great alternative to shorts as they have moisture wicking properties to keep your skin dry while also taking the wind chill away from your bare legs. Our 2XU compression range is specifically designed to promote blood flow from the extremities meaning your legs are always being supplied with warm blood from your core.
If wearing compression garments isn’t your thing during a run than they still have just as many benefits post run as a recovery tool. They can easily be worn around the house, under clothes to work or school or even to bed. Their benefits include promotion of blood flow and removal of lactic acid which is there to reduce the effects of DOMS to have you feeling fresher and get you back out training sooner.
Keeping your extremities warm: keeping your head, hands and feet dry and warm will go a long way to making your run more enjoyable. A beanie or even a hat can keep much of the heat from escaping through the top of your head, likewise for gloves and your hands. The best part of headwear and gloves is that they are super easy to strip off mid run once you start to warm up. Whereas, appropriate footwear and socks will keep the blood pumping around your feet.
The right technical sock should be able to wick moisture away from the skin whether it be the water that’s gotten through your mesh runners from the rain or from your own sweat within your shoes. They should also be able to regulate the temperature of your feet to keep them from getting too cold that you lose sensation or too hot that they continuously sweat. It’s best to avoid your standard cotton socks in the colder weather as they will hold the moisture against the foot which will open the feet up to blistering and of course that dreaded icy cold sensation that no one enjoys.
Photos from the Yukon Artic Ultra - the ultimate in cold weather running! Photos Mark Kelly
- Warming up before your run inside where possible. This way once you hit that icy air your body won’t have to work as hard to reach/maintain an ideal temperature.
- Dress in layers that are easy to take off and hold onto once you have warmed up towards the back half of your run.
- Keep your feet dry with waterproof shoe uppers or moisture wicking/thermal regulating socks.
- As the daylight hours shorten headlamps come into their own, be it first thing in the morning or after work it’s not uncommon to do the bulk of your running in the dark. A run specific headlamp is lightweight enough to sit comfortably on your head while lighting the way and keep your runs as safe as possible.
- Don’t forget that even if it’s cold we are still likely to be sweating while we run, therefore hydration shouldn’t be ignored with many great packs available that hold bladders and double as handy place to store any excess layers you might strip off.
- Once you return from your run, get out of your wet or sweaty clothes as quickly as possible to allow the body to return to its natural temperature as smoothly as possible.
Even though this is just a small selection of the near endless possibilities to help you through the wintery months, hopefully it will make them feel less daunting and much more enjoyable. The running world is full of useful items and people offering advice to keep your training on track, and don’t forget we’re always ready and waiting in store to talk you through any other questions you may have whether it is gear related or for general information, hope to see you soon!
David is one of the many former Active Feet team members that has gone on to practice podiatry (taking some great footwear knowledge with him). You can book in with David at Beyond Clinic in Hawthorn and Connect Health + Movement in Kensington.
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