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5 Winter Running Tips
Well, it’s official folks… 30-degree mornings are here!
I don’t know about you, but cold weather makes me want to stay in bed, bundled up under the covers. Granted, it is a refreshing change from the 90-degree days of summer.
Running in the cold isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For some, the idea is gut-wrenching. Meanwhile, for others, it’s another daily run.
After discussing cold weather running with many patients over the last several weeks, it led me to this week’s blog.
If you ask some of them, the key to winter running is… “Just do it.”
So here are 5 Tips for Running in Cold Weather!
- Stay Hydrated
This often falls by the wayside in the winter. As cold weather approaches, people don’t reach for that water bottle as often. Make sure that you don’t forget to help your body by drinking 1/2 of your body weight in ounces daily. If you’re active & moving, a bit more than that is recommended.
- Be Bold, Start Cold.
Many in the running community say that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices. I don’t necessarily believe that, but hey, to each their own.
When running in the cold, it is recommended to dress for temperatures 20-30 degrees warmer than it is. If you live in a windy place, please do remember to factor in windchill as well! This will drastically change your clothing choices. Some winter essentials to have in your clothing kit:
- Moisture-wicking hat/headgear
- Moisture-wicking gloves or mittens
- Neck Buff
- Arm sleeves
- Merino Wool/Polyester socks
- Moisture-wicking base layer
- Outer Shell (wind/water resistant)
When it comes to winter running, layering is key. When warmer, start with less. When colder, start with more and remove as necessary. Remember, starting cold is important, as your body will warm as you run! Also, staying warm in winter is all about moisture management. That means wearing fabrics and clothing that wick away moisture and having layers that also hold in heat.
Now, in the apparel category, we must also discuss shoewear.
We’ve discussed this topic before, but make sure you have more than 1 pair of running shoes! Not only to have time to let your shoes dry naturally (yes, I said naturally and not in the dryer), but also to help your feet stay healthy!
It may also be important to buy shoes with more traction. A good pair of trail shoes should be in your winter running wardrobe. You may even want to invest in a pair of shoe spikes if you’re going to be battling some treacherous, wintery terrain! Oh, and don’t forget, there are some shoes that are water-resistant. You may not want to miss out!
- Safety is key
First, make sure that you get a good warm-up prior to hitting the road. This is important to help prevent injuries and small snafus along the way. Start with a 5-10 minute fitness walk with some dynamic stretching added in.
Second, BE VISIBLE. Running in winter, especially here in the northeast brings its challenges. Roads are darker, trails are closed, and people are more tired. Make sure to wear bright colored & reflective clothing. Also, if needed, a headlamp or lighted running vest may be good options.
Third, run with people. It will not only help motivate you but also if anything ever happens, you’re not alone! Winter running conditions can be questionable, and you never know where that black ice may be. If you don’t run in a group, make sure that you have your GPS device tracking on AND your cell phone nearby.
- Be flexible with your distances and paces.
Winter is not the time to be PRing every training run. It is also not the time to be making drastic changes to your training program. Remember, conditions & temperatures will affect how you feel. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not hitting set marks. This time of year is a great time to work on your aerobic capacity (Zone 2) runs and build stamina for the spring. It is also a great time to get in 3-4 days of strength training to make you a more resilient runner.
- Post-Run Advice
If you’re anything like me, the first thing I want to do when I come in from a cold run outside is to jump in a steaming hot shower…. until I get in it. My skin burns, it’s hard to breathe, and I ask myself… why in the heck did I do that.
After running in the cold, the first thing we recommend is changing your clothes. Get out of your wet clothes and let your body temperature return to baseline. After changing, do some cool-down stretching or light strength training. Drink some hot liquids if preferred. Then, after your body has regulated, it’s time for that shower!
Alright folks, well, that’s a wrap on 5 Winter running tips. My biggest recommendation- just get out there and try!
As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post them below!