Run Melbourne – Considerations for Running in winter
Thinking about doing that very first Run Melbourne event in July? Or are you a regular runner who is considering what happens when the weather starts to become cooler, windier and wetter? Melbourne in Winter can typically include temperatures between 6.5 degrees C – 14.2 degrees C. We can experience frost in the mornings and maintain quite a sharp chill throughout the day. As our side of the earth turns away from the sun, here is a guide to prepare us for a smooth journey into running, whether we are novice or experienced!
Initiate and prolong your warm up before going out for a run!
When the weather is cooler in winter, having a longer period of time to warm up becomes crucial to ensure that your muscles have enough heat to generate enough power to start the run. When you first step outside into the cold, any heat in your body will move to the internal organs and to your skin for thermal comfort first, and your leg muscles will only pick up what is leftover. For every one degree increase in temperature in your leg muscles, your exercise performance increases by 2-5%. Aim to warm up for 10-20mins before commencing your run and ensure there is an emphasis on dynamic stretches (hammy swings, lunges, squats, hip circles) which allow for lengthening of the muscles through movement.
Make sure your rest periods are ‘active rest periods’
This is important for those who are taking rest periods during their training session. You may be doing sprints or interval training; or perhaps are slowly building up your stamina aiming to run continuously. When you slow down or reduce the intensity of your run during rest periods, you are more exposed to losing heat in your body as you are not actively producing as much and it becomes lost to the external environment.
As long as your body has not been exposed to wet conditions or significantly increased sweating, you are still able to maintain core body temperature. However, the more you can keep your muscles working, the more likely they will maintain warmer temperatures and your performance can improve. So keep up a slow jog or a brisk walk during those rest periods.
Improve and maintain your strength training
When your body is exposed to a colder environment, research suggests your muscles are not able to generate as much force for as long of a period compared with exercise in a more temperate climate. Your body has to prioritise maintenance of temperature, blood pressure as well as oxygen levels to vital organs and core structures that otherwise may have been allocated to larger muscle groups in the legs whilst running. It is therefore important to integrate at least twice weekly strength training into your program, especially of the lower body, to ensure you are building up muscle strength in order to prevent injuries.
Be prepared with the right clothing
The type of clothing you wear should have optimal insulation to ensure that overall body temperature can be maintained. There should be waterproof protection should you head out for a run in the rainy weather, as body exposure to wet can cool the body down rapidly. Fast drying and wickable clothing is especially important as it is best to draw sweat away from the body. Without this feature, your clothing can become wet and cold, which exposes your body to heat loss very quickly and can impact exercise performance during running.
Layering your clothing is also a great idea, allowing you to maintain warmth as you start and allowing you to remove layers as you become too warm. As a base, leggings or running tights and a running singlet, followed by a t-shirt or long sleeved top and finishing with a weatherproof jacket, beanie and gloves can give you adequate insulation and protection.
Overall, don’t let the cooler weather deter you from getting in your runs! In fact, running is very safe in cooler conditions, and luckily for us, we are not exposed to extreme snow and ice conditions in Melbourne! Good luck for everyone training for the Run Melbourne and to everyone aiming to tackle their training in winter!
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