Running when it’s warm and sunny out is an easy feat. It’s running during the colder months that is the true test of a runner. Instead of sticking to the treadmill for 6 months or giving up running all together, try my personally tested cold weather tips.
Figure out your layers.
Sounds obvious, right? Well, learning the proper way to layer takes a few uncomfortable runs in the chilly air to figure out. After several attempts at running in a sweatshirt, I’ve learned it’s best to choose wind-resistant running coats with zippers for ventilation and thin, fleece-lined running tights. Your body will heat up as you’re running, so you don’t want to wear layers that might lead to overheating. At the same time, you don’t want to wear too few or too thin layers that might lead you to have a cold sweat. The golden rule is to dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer. So keep that in mind, and invest in the right clothing.
Cover your smaller parts.
Ears, noses, chins, fingers, and toes suffer the most when you’re running in the cold. The wind against these poorly insulated body parts can be incredibly painful and ruin the promise of a good run. Protect your toes with thick, warm socks and shoes with very little mesh, thin gloves that allow you to move your fingers, ear muffs or a hat to protect your ears, and a fleece neck warmer to shield your chin and neck from the cold.
Use the wind to your advantage.
The cold wind is brutal when you’re trying to run, so the best thing to do is to use it to your advantage. Begin your run by going into the wind. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s best to face the wind before you’ve worked up a sweat. Then, finish your run with the wind at your back, so you don’t have to struggle through a debilitating cold sweat.
Warm up before heading out.
The winter months aren’t the time for a 5 minute warm-up walk. Doing a short warm up inside, like running up and down your stairs, a short yoga sequence, or even 10 burpees, are all it takes to make heading into the cold more bearable.
Don’t try to beat your PR.
It’s always tempting to try to run your fastest mile, but the cold months aren’t the time for that. Your body is already at a disadvantage with the cold, and the hazards of running in ice, snow, rain, or limited sunlight can easily cause you to injure yourself if you’re trying to run faster or farther. Use the cold months to maintain, and if you want to beat your PR, try it on the treadmill with an increased incline or an indoor track.
When there’s snow, ice, or rain, you need to wear water-resistant clothing. Aside from donning a rain jacket, the most important thing you can do is protect your feet from moisture. Wet shoes can cause sweaty feet to become painfully cold, which can lead to injury. After putting on thick, warm socks, wrap your feet in plastic bags before putting on your shoes. It’s not fabulous, but it will keep your feet dry so you can enjoy your run.