Running in cold weather is not as bad as you imagine it is. As a matter of fact it can be quiet exhilarating and fun. You just need to make sure you follow the tips for running in the cold weather and above all make that first step and make it happen.
I fell in love with running in cold weather while I was living in Somerset, Kentucky training for a half-marathon. At first, I would make some excuse why I could not run in the cold and would always put running off for another day. Needless to say it did not take me long to figure out I was never going to be ready for that half-marathon. So I laced on my shoes, threw on a jacket, stocking cap and gloves and made it happen!
Yes, I will admit that in the first few minutes of your run you will feel chilly. However, if you follow a few tips for running in cold weather I assure you that you will embrace the winter cold and have fun doing it!!!
Set A Goal
Motivating yourself to get up and brave the outdoors in the cold weather can be challenging to say the least. I found that if you set a goal or reward for yourself to go after you are more apt to take that first step on a cold day.
- One great motivator is inviting a buddy to go with you. Believe me there is no backing out when your buddy is at your doorstep eager and chomping at the bit to go.
- Another motivational tip is setting a reward for your self. A reward I like to use is the lure of a hot steaming cup of hot chocolate after I complete my run.
Dress For The Cold
Dressing the right way is the difference between a warm fun run and a miserable cold run. So how do you keep warm? One word layering. This allows you to add a layer if it is cold or shed a layer if you get too warm and sweaty. Here are a few guidelines for dressing in the cold:
- Layering is the way to go. So how do you layer?
- So Let’s start off with the layer next to your body. You want a fabric such as a polyester or wool that will keep you sweat away from your body. I found that wool is a good choice as it, is odor resistant and keeps you warm even when it becomes wet.
- The next layer may or may not be needed depending on how cold it is outside. You will need to determine by trial and error just how tolerate you are to cold conditions and if you need a little more insulation. Don’t forget that with any layer it should be breathable and able to wick moisture.
- The outside layer is typically a jacket. Choose one that is lightweight, wind proof, water resistant, but is yet breathable. Ideally with reflective strips or vests to make you more visible.
- Don’t forget your bare legs. I found that running tights are very comfortable and will keep your legs and rear end warm.
- Last but not least is you ears and fingers.
- I have found from experience that my fingers are the most difficult to keep warm. A cheap pair of brown jersey gloves seem to work the best. Depending on how cold it is I will layer on another pair.
- A good old stocking cap keeps my head and ears warm. In extremely windy cold weather I will put on a stocking cap that covers my neck, face and head as well.
Protect You Feet
You feet need to be warm and as dry as possible. Remember your feet are the doing all the pounding.
- Socks are just as important as shoes. Your socks need to fit inside your shoes and feel comfortable. Wool socks are a great choice as they provide warmth even when they get wet.
- The best tip on shoes is to check the tread to ensure they have plenty of tread left. You will need all the help you can get for keeping your traction in the snow or ice. One last thing with shoes is pick ones with the least amount of mesh on the outside. This will help keep your tootsies warm and hopefully dryer.
Watch You Stride
Don’t forget that winter running can be slippery so be conscious of your stride. Try shortening your stride and keeping your feet closer to the ground. This will help you run more efficiently and reduce the risk of falling. Falling on the cold frozen ground is no fun. If you can, run on fresh snow rather than ice or packed snow. You will have better traction on fresh snow and lessen the chance of falling.
Out Fox The Wind
If you have ever ran into the wind you know how difficult and tiring it can be especially at the end of a run. So out fox the wind and start your run into the wind and finish with the wind at your back. Finishing with the wind at your back will help keep you from shivering from all that sweating from a hard run. Several other strategies too out fox the wind are:
- Using segmentation. This is simply breaking your run up into segments where you run 10 minutes into the wind then turn around and run 10 minutes with it at your back.
- Utilizing natural blockers. Make use of natural obstructions such as tall buildings to provide a wind block.
Let’s face it the winter world can be and usually is dark, slippery and almost always cold. A few tips to staying safe while running in the cold weather.
- Run in daylight. It gets dark earlier in the winter so try switching to earlier in the day. Noontime if possible is a great time. Try to absorb all that sunshine as it tends to help perk you up no matter how cold it is.
- Be seen. Wear a reflective vest or high visibility jacket to make you stand out to vehicles.
- Penguin walk. Shorten your stride and slow down. Remember that it can be slippery and slowing down on patches you are unsure of can prevent a nasty fall.
Cold Weather Running. Make It Fun
Winter weather poses a number of challenges for runners. Following a few simple tips can make the difference between a fun run in cold weather or a miserable cold run. Experience the feeling of running with snowflakes falling and melting on your face as you jog past the landscape blanketed in fresh snow.
So what are you waiting for? I challenge you to lace up your shoes, use the tips for running in cold weather and be prepared to experience an exhilarating cold winter run. Have fun!