Tips for Running in Cold Weather

For a lot of people, the threat of cooler, wetter weather can make them want to run inside or not at all.  Here are a few tips for running in colder weather:

Know The Weather

Before you go running out into the rain be sure to double check what the weather is. You can check out the weather channel or the internet.  This should help you prepare for the run, rather than being caught without the appropriate gear.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

You want to be warm without sweating so much you get a chill.  Dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer outside than it really is.  You’ll warm up once you start running, and you don’t want to be so bundled that you start to sweat and thus become cold and wet.

Wear layers of technical fabrics, to wick sweat, with zippers at the neck and underarm area to vent air as you heat up. The layers of clothing will keep you warm by trapping heat against your body. As you generate heat during your run you can remove layers to avoid overheating.  You’ll learn your own preferences, but assume you always wear gloves or mittens and a hat.  Also, wear socks that wick away wetness but keep your feet warm.

Make Sur e You Can Be Seen

With limited daylight, chances are you’ll be running in the dark.  Wear reflective, fluorescent gear and you may want to use a headlamp or carry a flashlight.  This is  less so you can see where you are  going and more so people can see you.

Motivate Yourself

Make plans to meet someone or go with a run group so you don’t wimp out when someone is waiting.  If you have to do it alone, browse through a running magazine or website and think of all the other crazy runners (or kids!) out there who enjoy this sort of weather (me, for example).  Tell yourself that you can go back inside after five minutes if it’s really bad.  Usually you stay out there.

Warm Up Before You Run

Move around inside enough to get the blood flowing without breaking a sweat. The cold doesn’t feel so cold when you’re warm. You could also incorporate about 5 extra minutes into your run so you walk briskly before starting. Fast walking is a great way to warm up before the run.  If you’re meeting a group of running buddies, don’t stand around in the cold chatting before you run.

Start Out Slower

Pick up the pace from walking to running and transition at a jogging rate – concentrate on your breathing and relax your mind.  You should be able to get into the rhythm of running and enjoy where you are running.  If you start feeling winded and cramped, slow your pace down (even to a walk, if needed).

Work With the Wind

If you can, start your run into the wind and finish with it at your back or break the run into segments, running into the wind for about 10 minutes, turning around to run with the wind at your back for five minutes, and repeating.

Also, protect exposed skin.  BodyGlide on your nose and on cheeks can help to prevent frostbite if it is really cold.  Moisturize you face after the run as well.

Change Quickly After the Run

Your core body temperature drops as soon as you stop running. To avoid being cold all day, change all of your clothes as soon as possible. Women need to get out of damp sports bras quickly. Put a dry hat on wet hair. And drink something hot.

If you have to dry shoes overnight, crumple up newspaper and cram it tightly into your shoes, with the insoles removed. The newspaper soaks up the moisture.

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Bottom line though, is figure out what works for you in terms of clothing, motivation and when to run inside or curl up on the couch with a good book.