Health

Thursday 28 August 2014

A forecast on how you can beat the elements

Planning

Braving the elements
Braving the elements

I'm getting soft. A sunshine-crammed summer in California, followed by an autumn and winter of mostly cerulean skies, low winds and not a drop of rain have reduced my tolerance to bad weather. At the best of times, I dislike cold, wet and windy weather; especially racing, when bad conditions seem to play on already jumbled nerves.

Yet, it's a rare day that I succumb to the elements and stay inside, and aside from the occasional miserable rain-lashed bike ride, I'm almost always glad to have braved the great outdoors. There are physiological benefits to training outside, however watery and pale the Irish light is, that cannot be replicated in the gym.

My friend Chris, an experienced winter ultra-runner, likes to quote Sir Rannulph Fiennes: "There is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing." I find that the hardest bit of a workout in bad weather is overcoming inertia and getting out the door.

So, with that in mind, I like to give myself the best odds possible of getting started and out on the road. Here are some tips for staying warm (if not dry):

1/ Dress for success. I really dislike being too cold, so I layer up so that I am warm enough to convince myself to leave the house. For cycling in wet and windy weather, the wind chill effect can be high, so I layer up with a base layer, cycling jersey and a winter jacket, as well as winter cycle leggings over my shorts. Good gloves, shoe covers and a skull cap under the helmet keep the extremities warm.

2/ Check the weather and plan ahead. As long as it's not actually blowing a hurricane, you'll be able to run or bike in most conditions if your route is ice-free. If there's a chance that your normal route will stay icy all day, think about some safer options.

3/ Be ready to take a rain check and be flexible with your plans if the forecast looks bad. If it's pouring torrentially, it rarely lasts all day, so set back your start time for an hour or two. Often in Ireland, it's only icy early in the morning, so if your cycle is cancelled due to frost, there may be an opportunity to head out in the afternoon.

4/ Have a back-up plan for the worst days. If you have a gym membership, it's likely you have access to a treadmill or a spin bike. I will do anything to avoid treadmill running, but if needs must, I will line up some good music at the gym -- usually swapping my session for an easy recovery run and keeping the fast running for a day when I can get back outside.

The abysmal weather in Ireland over Christmas (torrential rain, gale force winds and low temperatures) was quite a deterrent to getting out running. I started each run with a full complement of winter gear -- head to toe cover (a wicking top and full leggings, rain jacket, gloves and a hat), along with a frantically excited dog to eliminate procrastination.

As running generates heat quickly, on milder days I was able to start shedding layers after a few miles.

In cold but crisp weather, I headed out to the annual Dungarvan GAA Club 8k Fun Run on St Stephen's Day. To my chagrin, when we arrived I discovered that due to icy roads, we would be running loops of the training pitches -- a tougher prospect running 10 cross-country style laps on muddy grass instead of road.

Despite this, once we got running, I settled into a fast steady pace, and after a few laps, the jacket, hat and gloves were cast aside as I sweated my way around the soggy pitches to a reward lunch of turkey sandwiches.

 

THIS WEEK...

The abysmal weather in Ireland over Christmas (torrential rain, gale force winds and low temperatures) was quite a deterrent to getting out running. I started each run with a full complement of winter gear — head to toe cover (a wicking top and full leggings, rain jacket, gloves and a hat), along with a frantically excited dog to eliminate procrastination.

As running generates heat quickly, on milder days I was able to start shedding layers after a few miles.

In cold but crisp weather, I headed out to the annual Dungarvan GAA Club 8k Fun Run on St Stephen’s Day. To my chagrin, when we arrived I discovered that due to icy roads, we would be running loops of the training pitches — a tougher prospect running 10 cross-country style laps on muddy grass instead of road.

Despite this, once we got running, I settled into a fast steady pace, and after a few laps, the jacket, hat and gloves were cast aside as I sweated my way around the soggy pitches to a reward lunch of turkey sandwiches.

Irish Independent

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