With the holiday season in full swing, and the winter season fast approaching, it’s almost impossible not to put on a few pounds. The average American puts on five to seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Call it bulking, call it adding layers for the winter; whatever it is, it’s really hard to avoid when you’re surrounded by food and a bed that’s way warmer than the winter air.
However, it is still just as important to stay active in the winter as it is when the outdoors are inviting. Running is a great way to get and stay in shape. Jogging is one of the most efficient calorie–burning cardio exercises and it’s really easy to start, even in the cold winter months.
Beginning to run is all about starting at your own pace. Senior kinesiology major Gina Beretta, a member of the URI women’s powerlifting team and an employee at Fascitelli Wellness and Fitness Center, describes it as not “compar[ing] your chapter one to someone’s chapter 20.”
She recommends beginner runners to start on the treadmills at the gym or the track in the Mackal Fieldhouse in order to start light and eventually build up endurance, mileage and speed. She also warned of the mental barriers that running causes, however, “your body can handle more than your brain thinks.”
Running technique is more of a personal preference. Generally, long distance runners have a smooth gait and low arms, while joggers have a bouncy gait that Beretta said is not good for the joints. All runners adapt to the movement differently. Many trainers suggest midfoot, as opposed to heel or toe impact when putting your feet on the ground, arms low to your sides and your knees bent as if you are stepping over a large log.
Aaron Libman, a sprinter for the URI men’s track and field team, also offered suggestions for running through the winter.
“Don’t do it alone,” he said, since training alone gets boring and it’s easier to lose motivation without someone with you. “If you have friends trying to do the same thing you are, your goal is much more attainable.”
The sprinters use the indoor track in Mackal Fieldhouse once the weather gets cold, but Libman said the long distance runners continue to do 40 to 50 miles a week outside, no matter the weather. To combat the elements, they bundle up and wear old shoes that can handle water damage.
When it comes to preparing to run outside, Beretta had a few clothing suggestions. “Wear gloves,” she said. “I’ve seen a girl get really bad windburn and hypothermia.” Wearing long pants and sleeves to keep warm is also important because heavy layers might make for an uncomfortable run when you have found your pace and start to get warm.
Once it starts snowing, it becomes increasingly more difficult to run outside, although still possible. If you plan on running outside in the winter, reflective clothing is a key to safety as many sidewalks are too snowy too run on and runners are reduced to sharing the road with cars and bikes.
If you would rather run inside, Fascitelli and Mackal both offer treadmills, and the 200-meter track in the Mackal Fieldhouse is a great resource too. Remember, eight laps equals one mile.