Winter Running Tips to Beat the Cold

Running is a great way to exercise but also destress. This is extremely important with holidays and seasonal depression. However, it is hard to run in the winter with the weather turning colder. If you are new to running, it is often the time of year that people give up and then never pick the habit back up. The good thing is with some proper preparation, winter running does not have to be such a hardship.

Gear for Running in the Winter

The first step to winter running is by making sure you have the best gear. Your body will produce heat as you run, so you want to make sure that you are careful in the clothes you choose. Therefore, the key to success is with layering in a manner that allows your body to breathe but keeps you insulated.

Layer 1 – The first layer is the one closest to your body. You want clothes that fit tightly but are made of wicking to prevent sweat from sticking. This is going to be very similar to long johns but crafted from a spandex material.

Layer 2 – The second layer is considered a buffer, and will depend on the outside temperature. If it is very cold outside, wear something made of fleece. However, if it is above freezing, you will want a long sleeve shirt and running shorts that fit over your running pants.

Layer 3 – Finally, you will want an outside layer of clothing that protects you from the elements. Light jackets that are wind and waterproof are key garments during the winter. If the weather is below freezing, you will want to wear pants made of the same material as your jacket.

Extremities – Your fingers and ears are going to be the first parts that succumb to winter weather. Therefore, you will want to make sure you wear a fleece headband (or hat) that covers your ears and warm gloves to protect against frostbite. If the wind chill is below zero, consider wearing a balaclava to keep your nose protected as well.

Shoes – When you are running in the winter, you will need shoes that have more traction in wet weather. It is also a good idea to coat your shoes with waterproofing material to prevent the snow from getting to your feet.

Running Tips

Having the right gear is only half the battle when it comes to winter running. Here are a few tips that take make exercising in the colder weather not as brutal.

1. Less is more – While you need to dress warmer than during the summer months, you do not want to overdress. The only time you will need to worry about thermals and protecting your extremities is if you have circulation problems and/or the wind chill temperature is below freezing. A good rule of thumb to follow is to consider the temperature ten degrees higher than reported.

2. Push through the adjustment phase – Your lungs will need a couple of runs to get used to the colder temperature. This means you will experience a burning sensation in your lungs. Have your first few runs in the winter be slower-paced and shorter while you adjust to the temperature change.

3. Do not forget to hydrate – During the summer, it is easier to remember to hydrate while you sweat. However, in the winter, you still need to make sure you hydrate. Ice cold water is harder to drink in the winter, so consider room temperature with electrolytes mixed in to recover from a run.

4. Light yourself up – The daylight hours are less during the winter. If you normally run in the morning or evening, you will want to make sure you make yourself visible to others. A good running tip is to make sure you have reflective strips on your shoes, arms, and legs, allowing headlights to see you faster. Consider attaching a small flashlight to the zipper of your jacket and wear a headlamp so you can see where you are going.

5. Be smarter than the wind – Plan your run out knowing what direction the wind is blowing. Look for natural wind blocks, but plan for the first part of your run with the wind to your face. This is when you have more energy, so having it to your back will make the end of the run easier. Another idea is to rotate your run so you alternate running with the wind and against.

6. Change quickly – As soon as you finish your run, you want to discard any cold and wet clothing. Just like any workout, the second you lower your heart rate, your temperature will drop. Have warm clothes ready to change into, take a warm shower, and consider eating a warm soup to refuel. If it is snowy out, it is a good idea to have a dry pair of socks and shoes in your car if you are driving someplace to run. Finally, make sure you dry your shoes completely before you run the next day.

Winter running is more complicated because your body is less efficient in the cold temperatures. However, with the proper gear and these running tips, it is not impossible. Make sure you find a running partner to help you stay focused and help push you out of bed on those cold mornings. Finally, when all else fails, consider planning a run inside a gym or use a treadmill to break up those cold runs.