Runner's Winter Safety
The days are shorter, darker, and colder and many of us have found ourselves bogged down by the stress of the holidays. We are too busy taking care of everyone else to remember we need care too! So how do we get motivated to get outside safely this winter? We reached out to our friend Rebecca Tadema-Wielandt, Manager at Marathon Sports in Yarmouth to get her take on winter runner safety and how to conquer that first milestone: getting out the door when it's so cold outside!
~ Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the extra layers and winter gear. It stops me from getting out the door for my run. Do you have any tips on combatting this dilemma?
"What’s that saying? There’s no such thing as bad weather...only bad running gear! Running in inclement weather can be intimidating, but if you have gear that keeps you comfortable you will be more inclined to get out there! If you have base layers made from wicking material (you can go synthetic or wool here) your body will maintain a comfortable temperature. A long sleeve base layer, some fleece lined running tights, wool or synthetic socks that cover your ankle and a light, breathable jacket are staples of the winter runner. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if you are going to be outside, standing around in a temperature that is 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. If you dress this way you won’t overheat and end up with a bunch of layers tied all over your body. If you step outside and you are toasty warm, you know you have overdressed. You should be a little bit chilly in the first mile, I promise you will warm up!"
~ I’m sure others feel discouraged in the winter like me. The only time that the sun is up, I’m in the office on most days! How can we re-inspire ourselves to be grateful for this season and continue to move our bodies through it?
"I know the lack of daylight can be tough this time of year. I go into a sort of hibernation mode, summers are busy for us Cape Codders, this is a time to take a breath. The last thing I want to do at the end of my workday is go out into the cold and dark to get my run in. I try to get to bed a little earlier at night so that I can wake up earlier in the morning. Rising earlier gives me time to get things organized for my day, so that when the sun finally starts to peek over the tree line I can get out the door! I will actually set out my running outfit the night before and put it on as soon as I get out of bed. Even if you can only get out for a mile or two, your body will thank you and you will feel more energized for the rest of the day!"
~ As far as safety is concerned, is a vest really necessary in addition to a headlamp?
"Maybe it’s the mom in me but I am super serious about runner safety on the roads! A running vest and a headlamp (or handheld light) are absolutely necessary. The headlamp is really just for you, so you can see where you are going and avoid any obstacles in your way. I personally prefer a headlamp over a handheld because it leaves your hands free and the light moves with you. A reflective vest is what a driver will see first. You want one that is lightweight and adjustable and has 360 degrees of visibility, that way cars coming from any direction will see you. I would suggest a small clip on blinky light too, the lights have a couple different settings: stagnant and flashing. I find the flashing mode to be more visible to drivers. Attach your light to your running vest and leave it there. You can never have too much visibility bling, think Christmas tree level here!"
~ Marathon Sports recently sponsored the #LetHerRun campaign. Now that it’s getting darker earlier, could you talk a little about the campaign?
"It’s an unfortunate fact that women are often harassed or even attacked when out alone on a run and it can happen at any time, not just at night. The #LetHerRun campaign was created to bring awareness to the female runner’s experience, sexual harassment isn’t something most male runners will ever go through. The campaign was designed to hold those who harass women while they exercise accountable, to call out the “cat callers”. We want women to know that they are not alone and that the behavior they experience is unacceptable. And we want harassers to know we are not interested!"
~ I’m sure many women have experienced having someone yell at them on a run. It happened to me early one morning this past summer and, to be honest, I haven’t been running as much since. How do we take back our runs and the joy they bring us after such a shake-up of an event?
"This is a tough question, and I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer. I believe that it's important to do what feels comfortable for you. If you are feeling like you are ready to get back out there, you might feel safer with a buddy or look into meeting up with your local running club. Running club members are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met, and they come in a variety of different shapes and paces, you’ll find your people!"
~ You mention that finding a running group can be helpful for feelings of safety and general motivation. What about the Marathon Sports run club? Is this something that new runners may have a chance to explore? Can you tell our readers a bit about the club and whether members have been running together during this crazy time?
"So, Marathon Sports is not able to host or post about our group runs at this time. Hopefully we will be back this spring/summer! We usually have our run club meet at the store every Thursday evening at 6:15 pm for a social 3-5 mile run on the bike trail. We also host special run club events and hope to get those going again someday."
"The Cape Cod Athletic club would be the best bet right now for someone looking for people to run with. They do still meet (outside of course) multiple weekdays in different towns on the Cape. Their website is capecodatheticclub.org and membership is $20/year."
We hope this inspires you to get in those miles even when it's cold and dark. Maybe add a new headlamp or some high visibility gear to your wardrobe. Whatever it takes to keep you safe and running! Visit Rebecca at Marathon Sports on Station Avenue in South Yarmouth! Tell her we sent you!
Photo credit: Rebecca Tadema-Wielandt