Running with Raynaud’s; or how I keep warm in Winter
Have you ever been out for a run in the winter and realised you couldn’t feel your hands or feet?
Or had difficulty turning the key to get back into your house because of the painful tingling sensation in your fingers?
Then you might, like me, have Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Raynaud’s is a fairly common condition where the small blood vessels in the extremities are over-sensitive to changes in temperature. This causes an attack where your fingers and toes, and for some people ears and noses, become very painful, go numb and change colour from a deathly white to a burning red and sometimes even blue. For most people it’s a manageable and mild condition but can be a problem if your exercise of choice involves being outside in all weathers.
So how best to manage it? These are my top 5 tips that help me keep the numbness at bay during winter.
Close fitting gloves
The first advice you will hear if you have Raynaud’s is to wear close fitting gloves. This is just as important when you are running. Your hands are exposed to wind, rain and temperature changes and the last thing you want are fingers so numb you can’t retie your shoe lace.
I have three degrees of running gloves. My first is a pair with an attached mitten cover giving you an extra layer against the cold. I’ve been known to wear these even in the summer when there is a breeze as the temperature change can bring on a Raynaud’s attack.
My second is a thicker pair for when the temperature drops a little more. My third is a pair of thick, furry lined, fingerless gloves with a matching furry lined mitten cover. I’ve not had to use these for running yet, but they are perfect for when I am coaching outside, they keep my hands warm and I can remove the mitten cover for when I need to take notes!
My second recommendation is to look for Goretex versions of your favourite trainers. Before I discovered Goretex coating there were times when my feet would get so numb I’d spend half a run not quite feeling the ground! The Goretex covering not only makes your trainers waterproof but also wind proof, which was the big problem for me.
The only downside is that they can get rather warm in the summer and if you do step in a puddle and water gets in there is nowhere for the water to escape. However, I’ve run through deep puddles and squelched through ankle deep mud and have managed to keep dry!
My third recommendation is for a ruff/buff/multifunctional headwear. They can be used as ear warmers, balaclavas, hats, neck warmers and wrist warmers. My Reynaud’s doesn’t affect my ears or nose but I feel that keeping them warm helps me keep warm all over.
If you are going to be out running for a very long time then you might want to invest in some hand warmers which you can place in your pocket when you are not holding them. A lot of them are single use only, which isn’t very good for the environment, but you can buy rechargeable ones which work reasonably well.
And finally, have a hot drink. If I’ve driven somewhere I like to take a flask of hot chocolate or tea with me so I can slowly warm up in the car when I’ve finished.
And remember, however cold you get do not be tempted to put your hands or feet directly on a radiator or plunge them into hot water. This can cause chilblains (which can be very painful!) or other damage to your skin.
For more information on Raynaud’s, including a test to see if you might have it, do visit the Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK website.
Do you suffer from Raynaud’s? Does the cold weather put you off from running outdoors or going on long walks?