Running injury specialist and physiotherapist Paul Noble, speaking on behalf of Simplyhealth – title partner of the Simplyhealth Great Run Series
As well as a much-appreciated extra hour in bed, when the clocks change we need to get used to colder, darker runs. Here are some top tips to keep you in peak condition.
Check the weather: preparation is key, download a good weather app in order not to be caught out by extra wet or cold running conditions. As well as making you feel miserable it’s one of the top reasons stopping runners getting outside on dark evenings. Having good weatherproof kit, like a light rain jacket and gortex trainers will keep your running on track and minimise days lost to the weather.
Make sure you’re seen: running in the dark comes with its own set of hazards. Uneven paving stones, tree roots, vehicles and even scared barking dogs can catch you out. Bright clothing and a decent flashing light will keep you illuminated and allow you to clearly see where you are running. Trips and falls can twist ankles and graze knees leading to time off running.
Keep warm: it may seem silly bearing in mind you’ll probably be hot and sweaty on your run but risking getting too chilly can make your muscles less efficient. Cold cramping muscles can lead to an increase in muscle strains and is a particular risk if you have to stop for any length of time on your cold run. Consider wearing leggings or calf sleeves as well as a compression top, light running hat and gloves. If you need to stop for a short while think about jogging on the spot to keep the muscles warm.
Think safety: in the darker evenings it’s worth thinking about your safety and making a few sensible changes. Running with a friend or making sure you take your charged phone is a good way of keeping out of trouble should you get into difficulty. Try ditching the headphones so you can hear properly. Plan routes which are well lit and well populated. If you’re prone to low blood sugar, make sure you take an emergency gel or flapjack in case you get hangry.
Keep flexible: The cold weather can make your muscles tighten as the body’s blood spends less time in your peripheries. Keeping a good flexibility and stretching routine going throughout the week will keep you limbered up and in prime condition for your runs.
Simplyhealth plans help cover the cost of a range of health treatments, including physiotherapy, optician, dental appointments and more. For more information, visit simplyhealth.co.uk