Deniene Erickson, 510.915.0532

Cold Weather Running

By Dr. Crystal Hnatko physician-in-charge of the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon

February 12, 2017 — Exercise is a great way to stay healthy no matter what time of year it is. As the cold, wintry weather takes hold it is important to adjust your running routine to make sure you are safe. And for those of you running the upcoming Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, now is the perfect time to look at your training and make sure you are on track for a successful race.

Clothing: The days are shorter and evening comes quickly so make sure you are wearing clothes with reflectors and bright colors. A headlamp or flashlight is a good idea as well.  Wear clothing that wicks away sweat and breathes, but keeps out the cold.  Look for running jackets with zippers in the arms, neck, and underarm area to help provide needed ventilation. For wet and windy conditions, consider a waterproof windbreaker or shell. Hats and gloves that wick and keep the cold out to prevent heat loss are a good idea as well.

Footwear: Find shoes that are water resistant and provide the support and stability you need.  Consider having a couple of pairs of shoes if you run in an area that is often wet.  This will allow you to wear the other pair the next day while the first pair dries. Socks that wick away moisture are also a smart choice.

Warm up: Warming up prevents injuries. Rather than stretching, consider dynamic exercises such as: jogging, running in place, or jump rope indoors to help get the blood flowing before you head outside for your run.

Be realistic: If it becomes too cold on long runs, split the day’s run in two, or do half the distance. You will sweat less and be less affected by the cold.

Hydration: Thirst is not as evident in the cold, but water losses are still occurring.  Have a plan for hydration on your route.

Know your route: This is especially important if you are running in the dark. Consider running smaller well lit laps instead of a longer route. Be aware of your surroundings and consider leaving the headphones at home. Check the weather before you go, so you are not surprised by any changes and make sure you carry a cell phone.

Have a post-run strategy: Have a set of dry, warm clothes, hat and gloves ready to change into after you run in the cold or rain. Keeping a blanket ready in your car is a good idea as is bringing a thermos containing a warm beverage to keep you hydrated when your runs take you away from home.
Above all, be smart and enjoy your run. Don’t let the weather hinder you from exercising and prepping for that next race!

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About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 10.6 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share