Now that the chilly stuff is here, it’s time to roll out the annual winter weather running tips list.
Some of these you have read before, many most likely bear repeating.
Here are 20 recommendations as we get ready to head into the season of most trying conditions:
1. **Avoid road surfaces as much as you can.** Especially if surfaces are slippery and lighting isn’t good. Drivers have enough trouble just navigating through bad elements without worrying about runners. After storms, stick to sidewalks or local parks and trails.
2. **Dress less than the elements would appear to warrant.** Yes. Even when it’s really cold out, dress in layers. After 10 minutes of running and the sweating starts, you won’t need as much clothing as you think.
3. **Synthetics, synthetics, synthetics.** Ditch the cotton and go for the moisture-wicking synthetic stuff that will absorb sweat. There’s nothing worse than that clammy feeling on the back-end of a long run.
4. **Light it up.** If you must run on roads and you’re running early or late before or after work or school, start with a reflective vest, particularly one with blinking lights. Then get yourself a U.S. Army-grade flashlight and put that on strobe setting.
5. **Hydrate before and after.** Just because you don’t feel as thirsty as you might in the summer, you’re still losing a lot of electrolytes. A sports drink with sodium, potassium and magnesium will do the trick.
6. **Stretch, warm up first.** Nothing is tougher than getting out the door and running those first 10 minutes on a brutal windy day. So do some stretching first, then, if you have stairs in your house, run up and down those for 10 minutes. Being warmed up will make that first mile outdoors much easier to take.
7. **Out and back course.** Best plan of attack: Pick an out and back course that starts into the wind (and possibly uphill) when you still have a lot of energy for the first half. That will make it easier when you fatigue on your way back home.
8. **Heavy-duty shoes.** Sure, you might be used to training in race flats but now it’s time to put those boys away and go with the big shoes with aggressive treads and better moisture repellant.
9. **Run with music.** Some people do this 12 months a year but we usually save it for the cold weather months as a way to break up the monotony when the outdoor world grows quiet. Just make sure you’re not near cars.
10. **Shorten your stride.** Numerous publications recommend you do this in snowy or icy conditions to maintain your balance. Good advice.
11. **Set a race goal for the spring.** Shooting for something a few months away gives your winter running more purpose.
12. **Carry ID and/or a cell phone.** Many folks have to train after dark, so it’s a good idea to have ID on you. Of course, a phone is the best way to put out a distress call. And it doesn’t hurt to tell someone where you’re going.
13. *Train with a partner.** Setting a running date with a friend, family member, etc. creates a commitment and that means you’re less likely to head for the couch when the snow starts falling.
14. **Hit the treadmill.** Or as we like to call it, the “Dreadmill.’’ On those really bad days, though, this is a much safer alternative.
15. **Cross-train.** Runners love to run but it doesn’t mean you have to do it every day. When conditions are bad, try swimming, indoor tennis or a stationary bike.
16. **Jump into the BCRR Winter Series.** Hey, you want motivation for the next three months? Join 400 of your close friends at Tyler State Park for races of all distances. Go to www.bccrclub.com.
17. **And run indoors.** On Wednesday nights, there’s access to a great 200-meter track in cozy Lavino Fieldhouse on the campus of Lawrenceville (N.J.) Prep School. Go to www.princetonol.com/mercer-bucks running club.
18. *Protein shakes and carbo breakfasts.** Here’s what I do after a long run on a winter morning: Two bottles of water and two scoops of whey protein powder in a blender, followed by an orange, slivered almonds, a piece of toast and a handful of cashews. Hits the spot, great for recovery.
19. **Hat, gloves, lip balm.** This is a little secret from the ski fraternity: Mittens work better than gloves. Also, double up on the wool hats for first 20 minutes, then take one off and put in pocket.
20. **Have fun.** This is not the time of year to get all competitive. Cut back on the mileage, slow the pace a bit and enjoy the reprieve. Serious training will return soon enough.