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Cold Comfort

Kevin Smith, Marathon Dynamics

May 29, 2009

Jack Frost may be on hiatus right now. But just like the Terminator, he’ll be back. And when he is, you’ll be ready to take a run at him with these helpful tips from Kevin Smith, running coach extraordinaire from Canada….the land of ice fishing, snow tires and looooong winters.

1. Be a woman of many layers
: Wind-proof shell, a mid layer, and an underwear layer on top; tights or wind pants, maybe even longjohns on the bottom. It’s ideal to be a bit chilly for the first mile, then you’ll warm up. Choose moisture wicking fabrics and avoid fabrics like cotton which hold moisture next to you and will chill you down. This also applies to bras and underwear.

2.    Embrace hat head: Wear a hat and gloves. Up to 40% of body heat is lost from the head and hands. Mittens are warmer than gloves, and ski hats are better than baseball caps. Even goggles or glasses are good to have on gusty days.

3.    Make a scene at night: Outer layers should have reflective material. Light colored fabrics are the next best thing.

4.    Beauty is skin deep:
Be very cautious of exposed skin in wind chill conditions. Use a heavy moisturizer or vaseline on your face if don’t like balaclavas or don’t want to look like you’re running away from a crime scene.

5.    My name is…:
If you've never had an emergency thank your lucky stars and then vow to be a good girl scout and be prepared with id, money, cell phone and an emergency contact.

6.    Whoever weighs the most wins:
Particularly when they’re encased in metal and have four wheels. Give vehicles extra space and let them have the right of way even though they don't always deserve it. Winning the argument is moot if you get hurt in the process.

7.    Stride right:
Be cautious of icy and snowy sidewalks and roads. When approaching icy patches, shorten your stride, and stop any ‘pushoff’ you might have when toeing off each stride.

8.    Running in circles: Run loop courses instead of out-and-back (easier to cut run short if needed). Start by running into the wind for the first half and cruise back with the wind at your back. This prevents sweat freezing up on you and you chilling down too much.

9.    Steady does it:
With poor footing, runners can lose over 1 min/mile of speed at a given effort. Don’t try to keep the same pace as you would on clear ground. Reduce it or invest in a heart rate monitor as a guide to intensity.

10.    The inside job:
Before heading out, get your heart going with some inside warmups like stairs, running on the spot, etc. And stretch inside when you’ve finished your run.

11.    Water, water everywhere: I
f you’re running hard, you’re sweating, so keep drinking.