When it comes to running outdoors, you never know what Mother Nature is going to surprise you with. Ask any marathon runner and they will tell you that as much as they'd like it to be so, not every day will be 65 degrees and sunny.
When I ran the 2009 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle, the weather the week leading up to the race had been great running weather, in the mid-fifties and sunny. When it came to the morning of the race, I woke up to find a blizzard outside my window! It had snowed a couple of inches overnight and the temperature had dropped to freezing. Being the die-hard runner that I am, I decided I was going to run the 8k race blizzard or not. By the time the race began my shoes, socks, and feet were soaking wet from standing in slushy snow puddles and I felt as if I had lost circulation in a couple of my toes.
I began the race assuming that my body temperature would rise and I would get better circulation to my feet. At the 3 mile mark I felt a throbbing pain in the toes in my right foot and I had to actually stop and take off my shoe because I thought I had broken my toe or gotten frostbite. I was terrified that my foot was going to look like Adam Sandler's foot in the movie Mr. Deeds, but fortunately my toes were just swollen from the running conditions. I did manage to finish the race but I realized after finishing that I should have take the proper precautions to make sure my feet stayed dry and warm before and after the race.
There is nothing wrong with running in cold conditions but if you do you must make sure you take the proper precautions to take care of your feet. Here are 5 tips for running in cold and wet conditions:
1) Wear quality waterproof socks
Everyone knows that shoes can make a huge impact on the health of your feet, but socks are just as important. Make sure that you have a good hardy sock, not any of those thin shear cotton socks because they don't help get rid of the moisture on your feet fast enough in wet conditions.
2) Bring an extra pair of socks
If you are going to run a race in cold or wet conditions then consider bringing an extra pair of socks that you can put on immediately before the race begins. This will ensure that your socks are fresh and dry.
3) Try Using Waterproof shoes
Many shoe companies now make shoes that are either partially waterproof or completely waterproof. They help to keep your feet dry which will help prevent blisters from forming.
4) Try to stay indoors as long as possible before the run
The longer you stay outside in cold weather the greater chance you have of get frostbite on your toes or other areas of your body. Try to limit the time spent outside to as little as possible. If racing in cold conditions try and find a warming tent to stand in for as long as possible before your race.
5) Avoid running in slush, puddles, or deep snow
Always try to take the cleanest path possible on your runs even if this means going a little out of your way. Trust me it will pay off at the end of the run because when your feet, shoes or socks get wet you have a great chance of getting frostbite or blisters.
Frostbite is serious business. However if you ensure that you do all you can to prepare for the cold weather, you should still have an enjoyable and successful run.
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist in Houston, TX and is the medical director of Tanglewood Foot Specialists. He treats all injuries and conditions of the foot and ankle. For more information and many informative videos, or to order our Free Book on Foot Pain, visit http://www.tanglewoodfootspecialists.com and his blog at http://www.houstonrundoc.com