Did you know November is National Running Safety Month? It makes sense when you think about it. The days are getting shorter, and soon the weather will make running a trickier business. National Running Safety Month aims to promote visibility-awareness. To that end, here are some tips for how to stay safe throughout the rest of autumn and winter, too.
Running on snow and ice can easily lead to falls, twisted ankles or a sore Achilles, and uneven surfaces interrupt your momentum. Look for areas that get cleared first, such as schools, universities or cemeteries. To improve footing, try trail shoes with a “grippy” outsole. A bonus is that many trail shoes are built with a closed-hole mesh to keep out dirt, which also works to keep out the cold air.
There are two important reasons to have newer shoes in the winter. First, running shoe foam stiffens in cold temperatures, losing some of its ability to absorb impact. This means older shoes will feel very hard and “flat.” Second, older shoes have worn lugs, making them more slippery in wintery conditions. Try the MilestonePod, which tracks exact mileage for each pair of shoes and wirelessly sends updates to your phone on when to replace them. The pod does not need to be charged and there are no buttons to push. So easy!
It's easy to forget that we still need to stay hydrated in the wintertime. However, your sweat rate does not actually change in cooler temperatures, so don’t put away your trusty water bottles! Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your workouts. And remember that on especially cold days, your water may freeze — so carry your water belt under your jacket or use insulated bottles.
Half the battle of staying warm in the winter is wind management. There are two ways to reduce the risk frostnip and frostbite. First, plan your route so that the wind is against you on the way out and behind you on the way back. Otherwise, you will get too sweaty during the first half of your run, and then freeze with the wind against you on the way home. Second, look for gear with built-in wind-blocking technology. From hats and gloves to pants and jackets, wind blocking features are widely available.
Snow glare can amplify the effects of the sun. Be sure to apply sunblock to any exposed skin and wear UV-blocking sunglasses. Don’t forget about your lips! Sun exposure and dry winter air can cause painful cracks and chapping.
Layers give you the ability to make adjustments and stay comfortable throughout your run. The first rule is avoiding cotton. Cotton traps moisture and has very little wind blocking properties. Next, think about the order of your layers. Start out with fitted wicking materials next to your skin, followed by a thermal layer such as fleece. On really brutal days, wear a thin but waterproof and windproof shell over your thermal later. Proper layers are not about thickness; they are about function.
Avoid checking your phone and listening to music while running so you can stay alert. While it may be tempting to look at your phone, alertness is key to injury prevention, especially when you run in the dark. Broken tree limbs, black ice and cars pulling out from behind a snow pile can pop up quicker than you think. Accidents and injuries can be avoided if your full attention is on the path in front of you. This is another benefit of the MilestonePod — it tracks all your run and gait metrics without GPS, meaning no phone required. So take along your phone for emergencies, but then sync at home to see all your results.
As the days become shorter, you need to make sure you’re visible to traffic, cyclists and other people. Choose clothing and accessories that are both fluorescent and reflective. You can also run with a headlamp to help light your way. Always remember the rules of the road: ride with traffic, but run against it.
Nancy Rowe is vice president of marketing and communications for Milestone Sports.