WDon't hibernate... participate!

Do you run outdoors all winter long? I do -- but I also know many runners who switch to indoor routines to stay active and fit. I’'m gearing up for winter running now, buying some new winter running tights and stocking up on the layers and accessories I'’ll need to stay warm while braving the cold. Get your woolies on…, or at least looked out,… because winter is almost here and we're not about to let a little snow slow us down! Today I'm sharing my top tips for winter runners:

1. Put some fun in your run! Mix up your routes, meet some friends, check out a new neighbourhood, or join in a holiday run or race. This will be the season you need some extra incentive to keep going… -- so keep the emphasis on fun!

2. Dress for the weather: When it comes to dressing for winter running, you'’ll want to dress for success. This means layers. Layering allows the warm air from your body insulate to you. You'’ll want to choose clothing made from synthetics that wicks moisture away from the skin. Non-synthetic materials trap moisture – which means that when you sweat, you’ll get wet, cold and likely get a nasty rash. No thanks!

It'’s easy to over-dress for winter running. You should feel chilled when you walk out the door. If you'’re warm, remove a layer. Your winter running wardrobe should include a running jacket, hat or headband, gloves, tights and a few long-sleeve shirts. Even on the coldest days in January and February, I usually take off my hat and gloves or mitts, even for just a few minutes at a time to cool myself down.

Many runners use shoe traction devices like Yax Trax. They offer better traction and stability in the snow but many runners find them unnecessary on sidewalks and city streets. Avoid wearing them indoors or on roads or sidewalks without snow… you could have a wipe-out.

3. Stay Low: You’'ll reduce your risk of a slip and fall and of muscle strain by shortening your stride and keeping your feet low to the ground. Many runners adopt this technique in the fall if they’'re night runners –because visibility becomes an issue. Because I often run in the evenings when it'’s dark, I wear reflective clothing and have tiny lights that attach to my clothing so that I'm more visible to cars. Another caution: beware of wet leaves!

4. Be Seen: If you run when it's dark out, wear reflective clothing or flashing lights so you can be seen. In snowy weather, wear bright clothing. Always run with identification.

5. Warm up and Stretch Indoors: Do a few minutes of moderate exercise indoors before stretching:– preparing your body for the run ahead is important.

6. Hydrate: Be sure to hydrate before, during and after your runs to avoid dehydration.

7. Protect Your Skin and Eyes: If you’'re running during the day, remember to use sun block on any exposed skin and to wear sunglasses too. Don'’t forget lip balm with SPF.

8. Run With a Friend or Group: Make your workouts safe and social. You'll have a built in motivational source, a friend to chat with along the way, and it's safer to run in numbers. Running solo? Take a cell phone, stay close to home, and let someone know the route you plan to take as well as your approximate return time.

9. Know When to Stay Inside: Once the temperature dips below -27ºC (with wind chill), you should exercise indoors. Hop on the elliptical, do a spin class, run on the treadmill, or head to an indoor track.

Happy running to all...  and be sure to share your winter running experiences and tips too!

Catherine Cameron
Ambassador, Active Living