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Winter Running: "But what should I wear?" The GRINCH

Though we've had a beautiful November, winter is fast approaching and shifting from fall to winter styles doesn’t just happen with indoor clothing! Here are some tips to help carry the outdoor activity trend through the colder months.

Dress is crucial for keeping safe and warm, whether you’re headed to Fish Creek for a stroll or to our other inner city pathways to pick up the pace, be sure to check the weather report before you layer up. We know that the weather can change on a dime here in Calgary. A toque or something to cover the ears and a buff for your face will protect those frostbite sensitive areas. I’m a double buff gal myself - they are multi-use! Your first layer should be close to your skin and breathe well, if you know you sweat a lot during activity something made of merino wool will dry quickly and many brands use this material for base layers.

A possible second and third layer can be a light sweater or insulator then a waterproof shell if it’s snowing- hopefully it’s vented at the armpit if you plan on working a little harder. If you start to heat up you can always unzip! Legs can be layered up in a similar fashion, if the trails haven’t been plowed or there are puddles of slush on every corner a pair of gaiters will be your best friend. We’re aiming to keep those feet dry to prevent blisters and freezing feet.

Hands and feet can make or break an outdoor adventure. Glove up! Magic mittens can do the trick if you aren’t keen on spending a ton. The dollar store keeps them stocked year round! Your footwear is your preference, we are all so different! I prefer running socks and waterproof running shoes or trail runners in the winter. Trial and error on shorter runs will help you find the perfect combo for a comfortable winter outing.

Microspikes? That is the question. Ice can be difficult to avoid and dangerous. When at all possible, run on the soft stuff always keeping in mind that a little fall is possible. Any time you change your shoe you also change your gait slightly so expect to feel muscles in your legs you didn’t know you had. If you’re on a trail that has been packed down and may be icy, spikes are a great way to be a little more confident in your stride. I’ve used them in shoulder seasons and they work great for mud as well. Keeping them in your running backpack is always a good idea.

Safety. Eye protection is important. The sun beaming off the snow can cause the eyes to burn just as much as direct sunlight. The same goes for your skin, SPF in the winter will help you avoid that winter glasses tan.

Always let someone know what your plan is for your run. Calgary is an active city and typically the pathways are busy with activity but in colder weather there may be less traffic. If you were to tumble and need help it may be a while until someone passes by. Someone knowing your route is important. Give them an approximate time they should expect a call from you when you’re back home safely. Especially if you’re a solo adventurer.

It’s a good idea to read up on the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. It’s possible that you might be working hard and while you might feel “hot” from your activity your face might be catching a cold wind.

Canadian winter also means that the sun sets earlier so an after-work activity might start in the daylight but finish after dark. Carrying a headlamp or other source or light so you can see where you’re going is a good idea. It also makes you more visible to cars if you’re likely to be running on a road. Relying on a cellphone light isn’t the best because in colder temperatures phones often lose battery power very quickly. Trying to text friends my location while at the ski hill taught me this lesson the hard way!

Overall, going into the run with an attitude that anything can happen will ensure a good time. I’ve learned to turn my slips, trips and falls during my runs/hikes/snowshoes from a scary thing that makes me go “AH!” into a fun thing that makes me say “WOO!”

See you out there!

Dianna West

ACADEMY Personal Trainer and Instructor

Join Dianna every Tuesday at 6:30pm for the Slow Girl Run Club. It’s FREE. No registration required. Just show us and be prepared to meet new people, get outdoors, run, jog, or walk while engaged in inspiring conversation. Meet in the lobby at The ACADEMY. Contact us for further information at 403 263-3113.

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