5 Tips for Cold Weather Running
I’ll probably get shunned for saying this but ready or not….winter is coming. I KNOW it’s still perfectly mild fall running weather where you probably live but in the next few weeks, most of us will make the transition to colder temps and yes…you guessed it…snow.
There. I said it, the “S” word and as much as it’s forbidden in this neck of the United States (just the mere mention of snow brings at least 8 inches), it’s something that us all season runners are forced to deal with especially if we have races on the early part of our spring schedule.
While some of us loathe the cold, I happen to love it. In fact, I’d MUCH prefer to run in 20 degree weather than in 80 degree weather any day.
That being said, there are still some things that you need to considered besides add extra layers to keep warm.
Much like when you choose your summer running attire, you’ll want to layer your winter running attire wisely. The kind of material you choose matters, it should be moisture wicking but also keep you warm. This is especially true when it comes to the socks that you wear. A favorite of mine is merino wool which provides you with moisture management as well as keeping your toes toasty.
Read more about more ways to keep your feet warm during winter runs, here.
Wait. I just talked about keeping toasty and now I’m telling you not to overdress. What’s up with that?
Well, it’s one thing to keep your toes, hands and head warm but it’s another thing to overdress entirely. Since you’ll warm up once you start running (I promise), you’ll want to feel a bit cool when you start.
Again, you’ll want to choose moisture-wicking fabrics and wear a protective shell that serves as a windbreaker to shield you from all the elements without having to wear a snowsuit. If it’s super cold out (20 degrees or below), you’ll want to layer up but still be sure to choose technical clothing.
Fleeced lined performance leggings are a great investment and rubbing vaseline on your exposed skin is a great trick to protect from frostbite.
See chart below for a complete guide on what to wear.
Run in something reflective.
Sadly winter running also means most likely having to run with limited daylight. Depending on where you live, tall snowbanks can also be an issue which impacts drivers ability to see you clearly. Be sure to wear something reflective like a headlamp, taillight and bright colored clothes so that you can be seen and stay safe.
We often equate hydration to summertime but it is just as important to keep the H2O flowing during the winter. Even though you might not be sweating the way you are during the summer, you’re still losing a ton of fluid through tears, snot and sweat. The cold air can also be a lot drier than warmer air which will dehydrate you quicker and due to the cold you may not recognize that you’re thirsty right away.
Try to take in at least 6 ounces every 20 minutes for optimal hydration.
Slow it down.
Also like heat, the cold will impact your normal running pace since your body has to work harder in the colder temps to keep going. In fact, at 20 degrees, your pace will probably increase about 3 precent. Snow and ice are other factors will also affect your speed since you will need to slow down a bit to stay safe.
Combat the colder days by warming up pre-run to avoid injury and consider adding traction to your shoes if it’s icy out so you don’t slip and fall.
Key takeaways: Cotton during the winter is still a bad choice. Bright colored windbreakers are your friend. Keep your hydration in check. It’s okay to slow it down so you don’t bust your butt.
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