Tips for winter running in Vail |

Tips for winter running in Vail

As the amount of daylight shortens and winter descends upon the Vail Valley, remain focused and maintain your running fitness.

While there are precautionary measures to be understood when running in freezing temperatures, embrace the solitude of winter instead of working out in the comforts of a warm gym.

Follow these tips to ensure winter running success.

• Register for a mid-winter or spring race. The best way to stay motivated through the winter is to have a goal to keep you focused. I will often sign up for a race in a warmer state such as Arizona or Florida and schedule a short weekend trip. This short segment of warm weather is enough to keep my focus when I return home and run in freezing temperatures.

• Try snowshoeing. If you have never run in snow shoes; attempt this form of winter running. While you will not be able to run as fast in snowshoes as you can in trail shoes, you will build stronger muscles which will transfer over to faster running in the spring.

Also when running with snowshoes, your heart rate will be elevated, expect to breathe a little heavier. The Vail Valley is fortunate to have two world class snowshoeing racing series. Both Beaver Creek and Pedal Power sponsor races.

This is a great way to embrace winter while exercising. Pedal Power will even mount an old pair of running shoes to your snowshoes, which will make running a little easier.

• When running in cold weather, comfort is your friend. Under-dress and you will freeze, over-dress and you may also freeze from over-sweating. Here is how to determine what to wear.

Dress for a temperature that is 10 degrees higher than the current temperature. As you run, your body will warm up, expect this change. Dress in layers and do not wear cotton as a base layer. Cotton holds moisture and will make you colder.

Instead, wear a moisture wicking base layer to keep you dry. Wear wind-resistant tops and bottoms. Winter wind chills can ruin your running experience; instead, wear materials to keep you warm. Always remember your hat and gloves as even sunny days can quickly change into a snowstorm.

• The best way to optimize your winter running is to become a weather watcher. Plan your running around imminent snowstorms.

If you are planning on running on Saturday and the weather is supposed to change Friday night, then change your run to Friday when the weather is nicer and take a rest day when the snow is falling. If you have flexibility with your work schedule, run during your lunch break when the day is warmer.

When the temperature drops to sub-zero levels, run short loop segments around your house. If you suddenly become too cold, you can quickly dash into the warm comforts of your home. Frostbite, hypothermia, and dehydration are serious concerns.

If you suspect that you are experiencing any of these conditions, or you start to shiver during your run, then find the nearest place of warmth and warm up before continuing your run. Grocery stores are a great place to inconspicuously warm up.

While running during the winter is not as comfortable as running during the summer, remember the above tips to make your next winter run safe and enjoyable.

Greg Decent writes a weekly running column for the Vail Daily.

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