8 Tips for Running in the Cold
Posted on Jan 17, 2018
For many runners freezing temperatures may be easier to tolerate than the prospect of running endless miles on a treadmill. Undeterred by the dip in the thermometer and the drifts of snow, runners bundle up and head outdoors. How do these winter warriors keep safe and warm during runs? Here are some tips to address just that:
- What to Wear
- Plan Your Route
- Plan your route so that you are running to avoid getting chilled after you have been sweating.
- If your route normally includes running on roads with traffic you may want to choose a different route because in snowy conditions drivers have decreased ability to maneuver and stop.
- Know where to find shelter on your route if the weather gets really bad.
- Consider running in a loop where you can leave your jacket as you warm up and pick it back up when you start to cool down.
- Leave the headphones at home. Your ears may help you avoid dangers your eyes cannot see. Wet, wintery conditions may weaken tree limbs causing them to fall. Hearing a crack before a fall may be the difference between avoiding a falling branch or being tackled by a dead limb.
- Be visible. Winter means fewer daylight hours. Wear bright-colored, reflective clothing or a reflective vest to make you noticeable to traffic.
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings and the weather conditions. Oncoming storms can quickly drop the temperature putting you at risk for frostbite or hypothermia if you are caught wearing the wrong clothes.
- Do not ignore shivering. It is an important sign that the body is losing heat, and you may be in danger of hypothermia. Change into dry clothes as soon as possible after your run because your body temperature drops quickly when you stop running.
- Leave a change of dry clothes and a blanket in your car for emergency situations.
- Shorten your running stride and keep your feet lower to the ground. You will run more efficiently and reduce the risk of slipping, falling or straining muscles.
- Protect Your Skin
- Apply sunscreen before going out.
- Sunglasses on those bright sunny days when there’s snow.
- Chapstick pre and post run.
- Body Glide on your nose and cheeks to prevent frostbite. Other options are Vaseline and Kiehl’s All-Sport Non-Freeze Face Protector.
- Use moisturizer on your face and hands after your run.
- Forget Speed
- Keep it Fun
- Run with friends.
- Mix up your route to appreciate nature's beauty.
- Take pictures.
This is tricky in the winter because you want to be warm without sweating too much that you get chilled. Layers are key. Mark Grandonico, president of the Main Track Club recommends that you dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer. You should be slightly cool when you start. When planning on what to wear think layers of technical fabrics, to wick sweat and with zippers at the neck and underarm to vent air as you heat up. Outer layers should be wind and water resistant. Always assume that you will be wearing a hat and gloves or mittens. Runners World has a great guide that allows you to input some information like: Gender, Temperature, Conditions, Wind, Time of Day, Intensity of your run and Feel. It takes that information and gives you specific recommendations of what to wear www.runnersworld.com/what-to-wear Check it out!
Our Basic recommendations:
Long sleeve tech shirt, tights, headband to cover ears, gloves
Long sleeve tech shirt covered by a short sleeve tech shirt or a long sleeve shirt, windproof running jacket, tights, hat or headband to cover ears
2 Shirts, tights, gloves, hat, windbreaker jacket/pants
2 Shirts, tights, windbreaker, jacket, pants, mittens, hat, and ski mask
Choose a pair of winter running shoes that are designed to keep the warmth in and the slush out along with providing extra traction. You want a pair with the least amount of mesh possible. GoreTex uppers are even better. Click here for some winter running shoe recommendations from Runners World. Yak Trax are great options for adding extra traction to your running shoes when your route will include snow and ice.
Muscles are more susceptible to being pulled when they are cold. Without a proper dynamic warm-up, unnecessary injuries are likely to occur. Kirk Warner from the Runexperience recommends warming up indoors. Warner says that he has his runners do 5-10 minutes of some mixture of dynamic movement designed to athletically prep their bodies for better running. The warm up that he typically has his runners do includes: 10 squats + 10 leg swings + 10 lunges + 10 burpees repeated for 5-10 minutes.
It is just as important to drink fluids on your winter runs as it is in the summer. Many runners forget how much they sweat in cold weather. Sweat isn’t the only way you’re losing fluid — that mist your see every time you exhale in cold weather is water vapor condensing into tiny droplets and ice particles. Make sure you hydrate before, during and after your runs to avoid dehydration. Use warm fluids in your water bottle or tuck it under your jacket to avoid freezing.
Winter running is more about maintenance miles than speedwork. If you can’t run in the middle of the day when the temperatures are warmest, run twice a day, three miles in the morning and three miles in the evening for example. This may be better than doing one long six-mile run where you might get very cold toward the end.
We want to hear your winter running stories!
What’s the coldest temperature or worst winter conditions you have run in? Do you have a favorite winter route that you’d like to share? Do you have any funny stories about experiences with your winter running gear? Do you have a favorite winter race? What’s your absolute favorite piece of winter running gear that you just can’t go without? Like us on Facebook and share your story on our Facebook page. Include #centerforphysicalhealthwinterrunnng to be entered in a drawing to win a Dunkin' Donuts Gift Card to warm up!
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