Winter seems to have finally arrived in the Tri-Cities, just in time for one of our community’s well-known events: The 38th Annual Cable Bridge Run! While the Cable Bridge Run and other December races are great ways to celebrate the holidays, there are some important tips to remember when running in cold weather.
So, picture this: It’s race day, you’ve got the adrenaline flowing, you’re drinking hot cocoa and bundled up to stay warm (because it’s 19 degrees), the anticipation hangs over the start line as you wait for the green light- it’s cold, but you’re pumped, “Let’s do this!!” The race kicks off and you take off, but about the top of the bridge you’re simultaneously burning up and freezing to death, your knees are saying “nope,” and your stomach is right behind them. What went wrong?
Here are some of our best tips to make your winter race day a success:
1) Train. Especially in cold weather, your body needs to be prepared and conditioned for running. You can be in great shape, but if your joints aren’t used to the impact of running it can lead to serious injury. If you haven’t been running/training recently, then plan to run/walk on race day- you could try busting out that 5K, and maybe make it, but you will strain and possibly injure your body in the process.
2) Warm up. Literally, we just mentioned 19 degrees (a pretty likely temperature for Cable Bridge Runs), starting the race with cold muscles will force your muscles to warm up while you’re running. By the time your body is warmed up you’ll be about done with the race- not ideal, and a recipe for injury. High knees, butt-kicks, running in place- working through some of these movements in the hour leading up the race can help keep you warm and safe.
3) Dress for the weather. Dressing in layers keeps your body warm, but also allow you to remove layers as needed to prevent over-heating. A zip-up sweatshirt you can remove and tie around your waist is helpful, as well as multiple layers of snug-fitting, non-cotton shirts. Why not cotton? Cotton absorbs moisture (sweat) and keeps it sitting on your skin, not helpful in freezing weather. Look for a non-cotton, microfiber material that will wick the moisture away from your skin. If you really want to wear the (cotton) raceday shirt, make sure you have a microfiber base layer underneath.
4) Skip the hat- wear a headband/earmuffs. Most likely you’re going to want to keep your ears warm, but wearing a stocking cap can force you into the too-warm category. You lose a lot of heat through the top of your head, but trapping that heat during a race can leave you nauseous. Keep your ears warm, but let your head breathe.
5) Bring gloves. Wear something thin and breathable (those little $1 knit gloves are great). Cold fingers are a distraction you don’t need.
6) Eat something healthy. You can’t run a race on an empty gas tank- that refers to humans too. Fuel up pre-race with some healthy protein to give you energy. During a cold weather race you’re asking your body to work twice as hard: you need energy to keep yourself warm AND you need energy to run. Even if your snack is a simple banana and a handful of almonds- don’t force yourself to work on an empty stomach.
7) Skip the sugar. Hot cocoa, hot cider, hot coffee- these might seem like a good way to stay warm at the start line- but we recommend skipping the sugar until after the event. Most people find that sugar+running=nausea. Cable Bridge Run is infamous for their hot Dr. Pepper at the finish line- if you need a warm beverage, let the reward of enjoying one at the finish line motivate you during the race.
8) Stay hydrated. It’s cold, you’re probably not thinking about water like you would in a summer race, but you still need it. Dehydration is not your friend, carry a water bottle with you and make sure you’re drinking enough!
9) Have fun (and stay safe)! If you want to sign up for the Cable Bridge Run you can find the link here, registration closes Wednesday, December 14th (there’s a last chance registration on Friday, December 16th– see website for details). The 38th Annual Cable Bridge Run takes place December 17th, 2016.
We wish you good health,
Columbia Basin Racquet Club