Updated 31 May 2013

Running in all weather

Here's how to maintain your running programme even when the weather doesn’t play ball.

Running is one of the best forms of exercise and because it’s so easy to do, you can do it almost anywhere. But can you do it in any weather?  

We spoke to Alan Green, club captain for the West Coast Athletics Club and qualified Sports Scientist to get some tips on how to maintain your running programme even when the weather doesn’t play ball.

 What to wear

For all weather conditions be it sunshine, wind rain cold you as a runner need to dress accordingly.

In summer a top and shorts are sufficient with the addition of a good sun block. However in cold, wind and rainy conditions you will need to wear the correct clothing.

All these conditions would be handled most comfortably if the athlete wears a good moisture wicking base layer. This is of importance as the material will remove any moisture from the skin and get it to the outside of the garment. This aids in keeping the skin dry and feeling warmer.

On really cold and windy days it is a good idea to add an intermediate layer which can be either another moisture wicking layer or a wind proof layer.

In really windy conditions or cold conditions the wind breaker is a better choice as it keeps the wind from cooling the wet material of the base layer down. In really severe weather conditions which include heavy rainfall then a waterproof layer is a good choice.

 Tips on running when it is very windy:

  • It is better to run into a strong wind on the way out or first part of your run so that when you are tired and sweaty the wind is at your back.
  • When running into a strong wind try and lean slightly forward from the ankles so that you decrease the wind resistance and prevent yourself from feeling as if you are falling over backwards.
  • Remember to take shorter strides and keep the feet close to the ground.
  • When running with a strong tail wind also take shorter strides and keep the feet close to the ground so as to prevent been blown off your feet
  • If you are running in a group then taking turns at breaking the force of the wind will help you use less energy when it is someone else’s turn to do so.

 The best way to run when it is raining:

  • It is to at least cover your upper body with a windproof top to prevent too much body heat loss
  • It is also a good idea to wear a trail shoe for wet weather running as they are designed to get rid of moisture quicker than the traditional road shoe
  • Also trail socks dry quicker than road socks
  • Wet shoes and socks can also be a problem for blisters forming as the skin on the feet softens when they remain wet for long periods of time

 Running when it’s very hot:

  • When the weather is extremely hot it is a good idea to wear a long sleeve top that is light in colour so as to deflect the sun’s rays.  By covering the whole upper body the athlete can prevent sun burn as well as excessive heat loss.
  • The loose fitting long sleeved top helps get a flow of air between the material and the body which helps with cooling the body down.
  • A buff or cap is also a good idea when running in extreme heat as the athlete can wet the headgear on a regular basis to help keep the head cool. An overheated head can be the cause of heat and sunstroke.
  • Remember to apply sun lotion to the legs and if possible pour cool water of the head and body on a regular basis.

 Keeping hydrated in extreme weather conditions:

  • In extreme heat conditions one tends to drink ample liquids and also take a lower less intense run.
  • In extreme cold and windy conditions the athlete forgets that wind and cold cause the body to lose a lot more liquid due to internal heat production to keep the athlete warm and in motion.
  • It is more important to remember to take in liquids when running in cold and windy conditions as one does not feel the need to drink as frequently as when it is extremely hot.

Sources: Alan Green, club captain for the West Coast Athletics Club and qualified Sports  Scientist with 20 years coaching experience in the health and fitness industry as well as sports coaching in various disciplines




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