As the seasons change, outdoor runners must adjust their apparel to continual temperature and precipitation fluctuations. Heading into spring, many areas of the U.S. typically experience a range of temperatures, sleet or hail, rain, fog and more. If you’re currently enjoying consistently pleasant weather in Florida or wherever, no need to read on. For those of us who have to contend with ongoing changes in the elements, here are some recommendations for enhancing the overall experience of running in transitional weather.
- Check the weather – Use your phone and check immediately before you get dressed for your run. Note the temperature, wind, real-feel temperature, humidity and chance of precipitation. If you’re headed for a long run, look at the forecast for the next hour or two as well – in some areas, drastic changes can happen rather quickly. It’s always better to be prepared rather than caught off guard. If you’re neurotic like me, sometimes I eyeball two different weather apps, or consult the radio or newspaper. That’s probably overkill, but I live in Chicago where the weather is constantly changing.
- Wear a good base layer – A light base layer in winter-to-spring temps helps to wick away perspiration and keep you feeling warm and dry.
- Invest in a lightweight outer layer – Don a water-resistant jacket that repels rain, hail and slush so that you stay as comfortable as you can. If it gets warm outside, you can always take it off. Better to wear it even if it’s not raining when you head out, because weather can be unpredictable.
- Keep your pants on – I know, I know, you’re dying to ditch the tights after a long winter season. But running in transitional weather is about being prepared, and if cold rain and slush continually splash on your legs, your muscles can tighten and potentially pull, which increases your risk of muscle strain or injury. Staying covered eliminates this hazard and keeps your legs warmer. So hold off a bit longer for shorts or capri-length tights.
- Cover your head – Staying dry up top makes a big difference in how pleasant your run is. Waterproof hats are the best bet – or a hood if that doesn’t bother you – but if you’re inclined to support your favorite baseball team at this time of year, a cap works also.
- Keep your feet dry – Many runners prefer wool, not cotton, socks when running in transitional weather to ensure that their feet stay dry and warm. Every runner intimately knows the bummer factor of stepping in a puddle and enduring soggy socks and shoes the rest of the run.
- Rotate shoes – This is a good rule no matter what season of the year, but particularly when you are dealing with moisture and are a frequent runner. Let each pair of shoes completely dry out, and wear a different, dry pair for comfort.
- Watch your step – Shorten your stride, slow down and be vigilant about watching the pavement when it’s raining or slippery to help prevent falls.
- Be safe – With changing daylight hours and spring forward, you may sometimes be out at dawn or dusk, or in foggy conditions. Be smart and wear a reflective vest or gear that helps keep you visible on the roads.
- Ditch the music – If you run with your phone or MP3 player to listen to tunes, it may be better to leave it home when it’s raining, as it can be challenging to keep it, and your earbuds, dry. Might not be worth the risk of possible water damage. Try a quiet run where you can meditate, reflect or simply enjoy the surroundings.
Have fun and be safe during your runs. Stay Fueled!