Winter Running And Walking the Safe Way
February 17, 2014

Winter Running And Walking The Safe Way

The sun has finally peaked her face out to Oklahoma, so this has me wanting to jog outside. As I thought about this, I considered how hard it is to be a runner or walker in the wintertime. Luckily, has some advice for the runner (and it is also true for walkers) to help us all with our winter runs or walks and even winter training for those who run or walk competitively.

First of all, we must determine when it is appropriate to run or walk outside and when it is best to do so inside on a treadmill. The winter cold can be uber dangerous, so let’s look at the four questions that suggests a runner or walker considers:

  1. Is the footing outside safe?
  2. Is the weather outside so cold that you need to worry about frostbite?
  3. What is the balance between how ridiculous the weather is outside and your motivation to go for a run in that weather?
  4. Do you feel up to being cold?

For numbers 1 and 2, if the answer is no, then run or walk inside on the treadmill. The risk of injury is too great to take the run or walk outside. For numbers 3 and 4, the runner or walker must consider if she is up to taking it outside despite the cold. In the words of, “The bottom line: There are a couple instances where you have to stay inside—when the footing is unsafe or there is a chance of frostbite—but other times, you need to decide if you want to brave the elements. If you’re fired up for an adventure, head outdoors, but there will be days when you’ll want to save your energy for the next big workout, so you should stay inside.”

Next, once a runner or walker has determined that she can safely run outside, she must then consider gear. It is critical in the winter to have good winter running clothing. Particularly, one wants to “invest in warm clothing that wicks away moisture” and clothing that is easy to layer. I learned quickly that layering is key in winter weather. The bad news about winter running clothing is that it tends to be expensive; however, it also is very durable and worth it. As a camper and hiker, too, I use my winter jogging gear for that as well, so it is flexible gear.

Finally, the winter training often includes building strength. Running and walking are not just about endurance. They also require that we have strength. So, suggests to build muscle strength in the winter by starting each run or walk with a five-minute warm-up routine that includes the Lunge Matrix, a warm-up routine developed by physical therapist Gary Gray. Additionally, suggests cooling down for 10 minutes after a run with General Strength and Mobility (GSM) exercises. These 15 minutes can really help build strength.

Each of these suggestions focuses on what is safe and healthy for training as well as just for winter exercise. Even in the seriously cold winter months, a runner or walker should keep her game up especially if she is a competitive runner or walker. For those of us who do it just for the exercise benefits (heart health, stress reliever, weight management, or whatever), these tips still help to ensure good winter runs and walks.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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