Coaches offer advice for cold winter workouts

01/14/2014 12:00 AM

01/13/2014 10:47 AM

Don’t let this week’s warm-up fool you — we’re still in the middle of winter.

And despite the subzero weather, freezing rain and snow last week, athletes in several sports still had to workout in the outdoors.

What do the experts say are important items for training in the cold weather?

Blue Valley West cross country coach Mike Webb, who coached junior state champion Stuart McNutt, said, “Make sure you wear the right kind of clothing. Don’t get caught up in what is fashionable or looks good.

“Staying warm and dry and wearing warm clothes are the most important factors.”

St. Thomas Aquinas cross country coach Justin Wrigley, who coached the Saints to a perfect score of 15 in winning state girls championship last November, said, “You need to have several layers of clothing including a base layer made of a moisture wicking fabric to keep the sweat off your skin. Hats and gloves are a must.”

Eladio Valdez is the running coach at the The Runner’s Edge. He has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and is a runner himself with three Boston marathons under his belt.

“If you’re dealing with snow, look for areas on the sidewalk that do not have footprints and you’ll get a greater strength workout by simply running in the snow, similar to running on a beach since your legs have to work harder to sink in and push off with each stride.”

Talking about running in snow or rain, Wrigley said, “If running in rain or snow, stuff your shoes with newspaper after the run to help them dry faster and be ready for the next day. The newspapers do a fantastic job of pulling moisture out of shoes.”

Valdez added, “Watch your footing when dealing with snow or streets that have iced overnight and shorten your stride as needed. Never hesitate to walk any extra slick spots.

“It’s one thing to be brave and another to be brazen.”

Webb said runners should protect their heads and faces. “Watch out for frost nip. Have the mindset of a skier. Use lip balms, moisturizers and petroleum jellies.”

Valdez said, “If you’re dealing with a noticeable wind chill, minimize the effects of the wind by changing your route to run on lower terrain if possible or turn your route into an east-west route to lessen the amount of headwind.”

Wrigley said athletes need to watch for signs of hypothermia.

“If the body temperature drops to 95 degrees, that’s a sign that you may have reached hypothermia,” he said. “If you feel the fingers, toes, ears and nose begin to tingle or feel funny, this is a sign that frostbite has set in. This can become dangerous because you have reached the point of your circulation being restricted.”

All three coaches advise that if it is too cold for you, do something indoors.

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