Hit The Road...Running provides fitness training and education aimed at runners. This section is a collection of articles and white papers written by Tony Denford, founder of Hit The Road. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments of any post.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Race Day Preparation

As your race approaches it's more important than ever to rest up and prepare properly.

For the next couple of days you will want to keep off your feet and eat well, get lots to drink (no alcohol or caffeine...Sorry) and keep away from sick people.

If the race expo is huge take it easy and try to limit the amount of walking around you do, especially if you go on Saturday.

The last couple of days is not the time to try the new Thai place or anything new for that matter.

Try to get a good night sleep for the next couple of days because you probably won't on Saturday night.

Motivating yourself during cold weather

Today is a typical example of one of those rainy, dreary days where it's hard to motivate yourself to go out and do your training but over the years I've realized a few 'truths' that never let me down;

- It's never as bad outside as you think it will be and
- Once you're wet, you're wet.

How many times have you sat indoors thinking 'it's too cold out there' or 'I don't want to get wet'. I have always found that the fear is worse than the reality. Once you're outside it never seems to be raining as hard as you thought and it never seems quite as cold (once you're warmed up).

As long as you dress for the conditions there's no reason to skip your workout unless the conditions outside are dangerous like a tornado, lightning, ice storm or potato throwing competition.

Tips for dressing for the conditions;
- Always dress like it's 10 degrees warmer, running at 10° C in shorts is very comfortable.
- Layer, layer, layer. You can always take something off if your too hot.
- If it's below freezing, wear something to cover your ears and hands (unless you want to lose them).
- Wear a wind proof outer layer.
- Keep moisture wicking materials close to your skin. The dryer you are, the more comfortable you'll be.
- Never tie a plastic bag around your head, there's a reason they put keep away from children on them. I found this one out the hard way.

Once you get out the door you always have the option to turn around and go home but I can almost guaranty you won't.

Enjoy your run...

Cold Weather Running

With the temperature projected to go below zero° for the first time this winter it's important to remember to cover certain parts of your body when you are out there running.

Even though you are generating a lot of heat and may feel warm usually the first part to cover would be your ears which have a poor blood supply and could suffer from frost bite if unprotected. Probably the next thing is the finger tips.

As the temperature gets lower it becomes increasingly important to cover exposed skin unless you want it to turn black and fall off!

By about -10° C you will probably want everything covered but your face although you may want to put a little vaseline on your nose and cheeks. By about -20° you will want your face covered too.

Wind chill does not actually affect the temperature but what it does do is to cool surfaces down to the ambient temperature faster. The more wind chill there is, the faster your generated heat will dissipate so it becomes more important to cover up and layer.

You'll be surprised at how little you need to stop frost bite, even a thin layer will provide enough of a micro climate to stop your skin from freezing.

Some other quick winter running tips:
Wear moisture wicking fabrics, you don't want that sweat to freeze.
Illuminate yourself on those dark winter nights.
Watch your footing for ice, take shorter steps or run slower.
Drink lots of water, you actually lose a lot of moisture through your lungs.
Don't drive into wet mud when turning your car around!
Don't get into a game of chicken with a snow plow, you will lose!
If you're running on the road, beware drivers with frosty windshields.

Winter is a great time of year to run, as long as you dress appropriately so don't use it as an excuse to take some time off. Get out there and enjoy it.

Running in the Wind

When it's cold outside it's particularly important to know which way the wind is coming from before you go out for a run. As I mentioned before, the windchill does not actually make it any colder but it helps remove heat and so feels colder.

If you happen to go out for a run when it's bitterly cold outside and do the first half of your run with the wind at your back you may find the conditions quite different once you turn around and the wind is in your face. This could actually be quite dangerous if you are doing a long run, especially if you have any issues on the way back that make you slow down or stop.

Try to either do the first half of your run into the wind or plan a route that loops the area that you are finishing in, that way you could always take a shortcut to the finish if you run into trouble.