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Gotta Run: Tips to keep you running as the weather cools

With the fall weather closing in, it’s a great time to go running. Most runners find extra zip when the cool weather arrives. Fall is now the busiest time of the year for local races and training classes. Every single weekend from now till the start of winter, Rowan County has at least one race. This coming weekend, there will be two quality events.

First up on Saturday, Oct. 24 is the Breast Cancer 5K in Landis. The course winds around Corriher-Lipe Middle School and then heads to the southern end of town before returning to the Landis pool. Nice medals and shirts will go to all participants. Cancer survivors will get special shirts. Following the event, all runners will get a full lunch consisting of grilled chicken, pasta, chips and drink. Registration and the race start are at 301 Rice St. Call Andrew Morgan for more information at 704-857-3114.

Sunday, Oct. 25 has the Spooky Sprint 5K and fun run hosted by the Rowan Rotary at Catawba College. This popular event is always a showcase for Halloween costumes that will be judged just before the awards ceremony. The course is mostly an out and back from Catawba College that finishes on the football stadium track. Proceeds go to Rotary programs. Call Greg Dunn at 704-754-3698.

The following weekend has the St. Matthews 5K on Saturday and the Dewey Dash Color Run on Sunday. All the above races have registration information and printable brochures at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org

Plans for the next Beginning Runners Class are in the works. More information will be coming soon. Expect the class to be held in January and February in Salisbury, sponsored by SRR, Novant Health and Salisbury Parks and Recreation.

Today’s major topic, very timely since most of you will wake up to a temperature in the mid-30s, is running in cold weather. We will get a small dose of cold weather with this front, and of course more extreme temperatures later.

When talking with new runners about cold weather, I usually start off with how to address the things that might make them uncomfortable. The most common complaint is that breathing cold air hurts as it enters the lungs. Actually, breathing cold air while exercising is not harmful and doesn’t damage the lungs at all. Just as with other minor areas of discomfort, breathing cold air will become a non-issue after just a few days of getting used to it.

Protecting the fingers is an issue that needs attention. Runners should experiment with various types of gloves or mittens to keep the fingers warm at various temperatures. After suffering with cold fingers for many years, I usually start wearing light gloves once the temperatures dip into the 40s. For me, just simple and light gloves keep me warm at that level, but I prefer to use heavier gloves or mittens when the harsher cold arrives. From the mid-30s on down, I wear ski mittens that allow the fingers to touch. Just this simple action gives me comfortable warmth even in below-zero conditions.

Other areas of the body need special attention, too. Most long-term runners decide to protect their ears and wear at least something to keep the body’s warmth in. My favorite is a good ol’ toboggan, knit cap or what the northerners call a skull cap. Extreme conditions might cause the material to capture some sweat and actually have ice crystals on the outside. You will usually stay warm on the inside.

Just as grandma always said, we should dress the rest of the body in layers. I use dri-fit material in layers, once in a while using up to four layers. Dri-fit shirts and jackets are known for quickly pulling the sweat away from the skin and dissipating it through the rest of the layers. I wear long pants from the mid-20s on down because legs usually stay very warm.

One other area is especially important for men. Make sure that the groin area has extra protection. Nothing ruins a run quicker for a guy than letting cold into this extra-sensitive area.

Wind and cold at the same time make conditions harder to deal with. Usually, experienced runners will make note of what direction the wind is blowing from and choose a direction that will keep it blowing from the side. If you must run into the wind at some point on your run, try to face the wind early while the body is warming up and has yet to sweat much. Then your return can not only have a tailwind, but your sweat will not seem as cold.

Dealing with the cold is often a matter of personal preference. You can always add layers to maintain body warmth, but too many layers are not the answer, either. The rule of thumb is to dress for a temperature 20 degrees higher than the current air temperature. Experience will be the key to finding what works best for you. I have known runners who often run without gloves in the 30s, but that won’t be me.

Cold weather shouldn’t keep you inside. Dress correctly and your run will be enjoyable. I worked for a company headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and corporate meetings were often held in the dead of winter. My own personal record was a 5-mile run in a 49-below-zero wind chill. Needless to say, I don’t miss my run because of cold and frankly enjoy it much more than during the summer heat and humidity.

Next week, I will address treadmill running as opposed to running outside. Join me on the roads this week!

David Freeze is a nationally certified running coach and president of the Salisbury Rowan Runners. Contact him at david.freeze@ctc.net. Learn more at Learn more at www.Ulearn2run.com

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