COMMUNITY: Run safe, and warm, this winter

You don't have to stay inside in the cold

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JR Ogden

Editor’s note: Erin Moeller, 35, of Mount Vernon, is a lifelong runner who qualified for the last two Olympic Marathon Trials. A native of Ryan, she’s a graduate of North-Linn and Wartburg who works for Benchmark Inc. in Cedar Rapids. She has two children — Ryne (8) and Evelyn (3) — with husband Andy.

Make no mistake, It’s cold out there.

Having lived in Iowa my entire life, one would think I would be used to this by now. Yet, each year I am surprised at how the bitter cold manages to sneak in and make its home in our backyards each January and February.

It appears the cold weather isn’t going away anytime soon, too. Due to this fact, we need to make a decision — escape it our embrace it.

Many may resort to the trusted hamster wheel (aka, treadmill) to keep up winter mileage (and keep the weight off) while others may choose to embrace Iowa’s winter wonderland.

Thanks to developers of high-tech running apparel, our choice has gotten a lot easier over the past several years.

Instead of bundling up in sweat shirts, turtlenecks and layers of sweat pants that leave us feeling like the Michelin man attempting a run, I suggest the possibility of pulling on some fleece-lined dri-fit running tights, a thermal dri-fit long-sleeved running top and a light running jacket that blocks the wind. Don’t forget some running socks that cover your ankles (key in avoiding frostbite), a hat that covers your ears and proper hand attire.

Personally, I am partial to the $1 knit gloves I wear under the ratty old mittens I’ve had since seventh grade. (No, I’m not kidding. One glance at them and you’ll believe me. But they’ve kept my hands warm for more than 22 years, and I see no reason to replace them.)

Even in temperatures that dip below zero, runners don’t have to give up the freedom of running outside.

Here are some other tips for running outdoors in the cold:

  • Find a partner or running group. Somehow it never seems quite as cold when you’re surrounded with good running pals and lose yourself in conversation.
  • Plan your route wisely, If it’s windy, choose to grin and bear it on the way out so you have the luxury of a tail wind during the second half. This is especially important since you’ve likely worked up a good sweat during the first half of your run and don’t want to get chilled running back into the wind.
  • Share your route, Make sure someone knows where you plan to run in the event something goes wrong while out on the trail. Invest in shoe clips. These great little gadgets slip on right over your running shoes and provide added traction in the snow and ice.
  • Use common sense. As much as many of us love to run outside ... some days we need to waive the white flag and surrender. Although these days are a rarity, I don’t generally gamble with ice. Shoe clips help, but I prefer to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to ice. For those of us who have ever taken a spill during a run, these things happen so fast. Unfortunately, the bumps and bruises (or worse) don’t disappear as quickly as the accident happened.

Thankfully winter doesn’t last forever. Spring is just around the corner, right Punxsutawney Phil?

Grin and bear it for a few more weeks. We’ll be back to running in shorts in no time.

Be careful out there, and remember to have fun.

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