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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Aubree Reichel runs through the snow on the trails at Franke Park last week.

Sunday, January 07, 2018 1:00 am

No need to skip running in winter

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Winter presents a unique challenge for runners when dealing with the cold, snow and wind chills.

When I posted on Twitter my final 2017 mileage stats, someone asked about my treadmill usage.

Personally, I despise treadmills and indoor tracks aren't my favorite, either.

Neither of these things is necessarily bad and both are definitely preferable to not running at all, but I've managed to avoid indoor running for the past week despite snowy conditions and frigid temperatures.

Clothing

To battle the cold, layer up: a base layer, a middle layer and a wind-breaking outer layer.

The base layer should be tight to the skin to wick moisture to keep you from getting too cold from sweat. Yes, there may in fact be sweat when running, even when it's in the single digits.

The middle layer, for me, has consisted of simple long-sleeve shirts. The added layer has helped buffer the wind even with a windbreaker.

I admit, I have splurged on good running jackets from Nike, Saucony and Under Armour over the last few years. Every so often, in the past, I've questioned whether I've really needed to spend the money and now, I'm really glad I have.

There is one advantage of snow as opposed to warmer temperatures and precipitation: snow just brushes off; rain soaks in. With this, the outer layer really doesn't need to be waterproof, just water resistant. Wind is the more important factor so even with a thick under layer like a hoodie or sweatshirt, a thinner windproof outer layer will suffice.

My hands stay pretty warm once I get going, but lately, even when they start sweating, my lightweight gloves stay on.

I seem to be the anomaly on this, however, as many of my running partners are forced to use hand warmers and several layers with gloves and mittens. For many, mittens do a better job containing heat generated by the hands. That's a personal preference.

For my head, a Buff is the most versatile item as it can be folded for a headband to cover the ears, can be used in place of a scarf around the neck or cover the face, or a combination of all three.

To protect my eyes, sunglasses have helped recently for the glare of the sun off the snow and for the wind. While I have run into the issue of my Goodrs fogging up, it seems to be mostly associated with the direction of the wind and where it's pushing my breath as I exhale.

As with my hands, I, personally, don't run into the issue with my feet getting cold, but noncotton socks are a must. Cotton holds in moisture while other fabrics such as merino wool will hold up to 30 percent more moisture than cotton without feeling wet.

I have worn Balega, SmartWool and Feetures brands throughout the cold snap. As with the gloves, friends of mine use warmers for inside their shoes to keep their feet warm.

On the run

Now that the cold is dealt with, another obstacle is where to go.

Sidewalks are hit or miss throughout the city as neighborhoods are a property owners issue, and, let's be honest, it's cold and shoveling snow isn't everyone's idea of fun (but it's greatly appreciated).

I've run loops around IPFW or Indiana Tech because the grounds and maintenance crews have cleared the sidewalks and roadways. IPFW also has the advantage of parking garages, which aren't exactly thrilling but they're clear and there are three to choose from on campus plus a 2.25-mile loop on the roads.

Laps around clearer areas might seem difficult, mentally, but sometimes a more stable footstep, decreased risk of injury and peace of mind is worth the potential mental strain.

Lindenwood Cemetery isn't cleared, but it's plowed, so it's pretty packed. And fat-tired bikes have gone through the mountain bike trails at Franke Park, which has packed down the majority of the trails there, as well.

Throughout the season, various paths will be cleared or trafficked enough to become more runnable.

I've been lucky enough to have friends as crazy as me willing to brave the cold conditions to also avoid retreating to the comforts of the indoors. 

Adjust expectations

Snow is akin to running through sand. Footing can be difficult and perceived exertion is more important than actual pace. Each footstep requires a little more effort due to the need for increased stability in unstable conditions. With this, it's more about time spent moving rather than actual distance covered.

General safety

When running on roads, stick to the sides as much as possible. Always run against traffic and be prepared to stop to allow traffic to pass, if needed. Be visible to oncoming traffic and obey crosswalk signals; the usual runner safety stuff.

With all that said, though, I do have a gym membership I can use if all else fails. It's a last resort and luckily I haven't needed to use it, yet. 

But this is an Indiana winter, anything can happen.

Aubree Reichel covers high schools, IPFW and recreation for The Journal Gazette. You can follow her training on the Foot Traffic blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog. She can be reached at 461-8339 or at areichel@jg.net.