Rain, wind, snow, bitter cold – all fall and winter factors that can tempt you to postpone your run, or worse, skip it all together. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t on our side most of the time, but “don’t let suboptimal conditions stand in the way of you and your goals,” says New England native, TeamNB athlete and the most decorated Ivy League Track and Field and Cross Country athlete in history, Abbey D’Agostino.
While at Dartmouth College, Abbey was a seven-time National Champion, sixteen-time Ivy League Champion, thirteen-time All-American and the first Ivy League athlete to win the NCAA Cross Country National Championship – all while training and racing in the variety of New England crazy weather conditions.
It can be tough to motivate yourself to get up and go for a run, especially when it involves bundling up and braving the elements outside. Whether it’s beating the weather to get your exercise or not letting it bother you on race day, Abbey has some tips to make your bad-weather runs more enjoyable. Here’s her advice:
1. Motivation. Try to embrace conditions that aren’t ideal – it can be a lot of fun if you have the right attitude. Being in suboptimal conditions makes you tougher! If you’re the only one out there you feel hardcore and intense like you’re in an athletic commercial or something. The average every day runner isn’t going to be out in the rain or snow. Your competitors aren’t out there – you’re getting ahead!
2. Wear a hat in the rain. A hat will prevent the water from dripping down your face the whole time. I usually wear a light rain jacket with a hood as well – keeping water off your head and face makes for a more positive experience.
3. Wear waterproof, not water resistant. Sometimes gear can mask itself as waterproof but it’s really only water resistant, so make sure you’re buying waterproof when selecting something for running in the rain. I’ve been bummed out in water resistant gear during runs because it ends up soaking wet, making me even colder.
4. Stay dry before a race. If it’s raining on race day, bring a change of clothes for after the run as well as a trash bag to wear before so you can stay dry. The biggest thing is staying dry/warm before you start otherwise you’ll be miserable even before the gun goes off.
5. Be strategic with your running route in snow. Try to find a route that won’t have any traffic. It’s best to run in the middle of the road because the footing is better. You’re less likely to compromise your stride if you’re on a flat road rather than on the sides where there’s an angle and probably more snow. Achilles injuries are common in snow because there’s extra slide when you pick your foot up off the road so finding good flat footing is the best option.
6. Cover your ankles, wear mittens and a headband. I wear longer socks and zip my pants over them in the snow/cold to prevent chapped ankles. Mittens on a cold day are a must; I prefer them over gloves because it helps the circulation of warmth. Covering your ears is also crucial; a hat can often be too hot so I prefer a headband.
7. Think twice about using winter traction devices on your shoes. It’s important to use caution when changing too many things. I’m always hesitant to change something that’s working; so if you’re concerned about the footing just go indoors. These devices make a substantial difference in your stride so unless you’re slowing adapting to them, I wouldn’t recommend running more than three miles in something like this.
8. Don’t run when it’s icy. It doesn’t matter how much traction your shoes have or how good your footing is, you just can’t beat black ice. You might think you’re being cautious but there’s no way to avoid the risk of injuring yourself unless you take your run inside. Air on the side of caution with this one.
“I’ve had some of my best races in some really crazy conditions,” says Abbey. “Battling the elements is what we sign up for as runners. Part of the sport is accepting the unpredictable conditions and learning to find positives – I’ve seen so many people rise to the occasion on those days.”
Currently, Abbey is training – and conquering the elements – in the 1260v4.
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