Stick to Your Running Routine All Year-Round – Cold Weather Running Tips
So, you’ve had a great summer of running with lots of miles on your shoes, but you’re sad that it has to stop now that the cold weather has arrived? Well, you can cheer up because you don’t need to have a long, dreary winter filled with treadmills and gym walls. Instead, why not try cold-weather running this year and stay outdoors in the fresh air?
Cold weather running is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s really not all that complicated. All it takes is a little preparation, some different gear, and some adjustments to your techniques and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running when the temperatures drop. In this article, we’ve gathered up all the tips and advice that you need to get started with cold weather running and have a great time doing it.
Let’s get started!
How is running in cold weather different?
Before you venture out in to a chilly morning for a run, you need to realize that there are some differences you must consider. Running in colder temperatures has effects on your body that are notably different than running in warmer weather. Specifically, there are risks associated with frostnip, frostbite, and even hypothermia for runners who do not prepare adequately for the weather.
In addition, many people mistakenly believe that they don’t need to hydrate as much when the weather gets cold since they don’t sweat as much. However, your body still uses a lot of water when exercising, so staying hydrated is just as important when running in cold weather.
Often, new cold weather runners experience some discomfort in their lungs during the first few runs as they adjust to the cold air intake, but this will subside after a few experiences and the body adapts. This can be alleviated somewhat by wearing a facemask while you run, which helps to warm the air slightly before it enters the lungs.
Cold weather runners are also more susceptible to cramping or pulled muscles, so it’s generally recommended that the intensity of your run be reduced when the temperatures drop to avoid these risks. It’s best to keep your high-intensity speed work to indoor environments when it gets really cold.
While you won’t have nearly as much exposed skin when running in the colder months of the year, don’t ignore the need for sunscreen on your face and lips. Even though the temperature is low, UV rays have the same effects on your skin and you should take the necessary steps with SPF sunscreen and lip balm to protect yourself.
Gear up for cold weather running.
First and foremost, the most important piece of gear for any runner is a good pair of shoes. Many people will simply use the same shoes in the cold weather that they do in the warm weather, but you may want to invest in a new pair for the colder weather that are designed specifically for the changing conditions. Most styles of winter running shoes offer more insulation and waterproof materials so you stay dry and warm, while others even go so far as to add studs to the soles for extra grip and traction on ice and slippery surfaces.
Socks are critical for cold weather runners, and you’re going to want to invest in a good quality pair of technical socks to wear when you run. These types of socks will be a bit thicker than your normal running socks, so be sure that your shoes will have enough room to accommodate them without becoming uncomfortable. You may even want to add a sock liner on the coldest days that will help wick more moisture away and keep your feet drier and warmer.
When it comes to apparel for winter running, you’ll want to skip the parka and snow pants. The bulk and weight of this type of gear is just not suitable for the needs of a runner. Instead, you’ll want to dress in thinner layers that are made from materials that will wick moisture away from your body to help keep you dry. You will likely find that you need fewer layers than you expect, but it’s always best to start out with more than you need and adjust as you learn what works best for different conditions, rather than risk having not enough protection.
The thinner layers will offer greater comfort and mobility, while providing sequential insulation to help keep you warmer than one thick layer would. In addition, you can adjust the layers based on what the weather is like at any given time. Some options you’ll want to have available include waterproof or windproof outer shells for added protection, and polar fleece mid-layers for greater warmth on the coldest days.
You’ll also want to have an appropriate hat to wear, and some type of protection for your neck and face. Low-profile runners’ hats offer enough warmth to keep you comfortable without cooking up your head and making you sweat. Neckwarmers made from a thin, stretchy material will help protect your exposed skin against the cold and can quickly be pulled up or down to help cover your mouth, cheeks, and nose as needed.
Gloves are also very important in helping protect yourself against the dangers of frostbite, so make sure you’ve got a pair that are comfortable and lightweight to wear when you head out the door.
Be careful and stay safe.
Overall, the biggest thing you need to focus on when running in cold weather is your safety. If it’s -40c and the wind is howling, either stay home or hit the gym. Running when it’s that cold and nasty is just a bad idea.
When getting started with cold weather running, think of it like starting running all over again. The safest approach is to start slow and small and work your way up until you get to a point where you are comfortable with the duration and intensity of the workout, while simultaneously avoiding over-exerting yourself.
Staying safe in cold weather means carrying the same essentials as you do in warm weather. Bring water, low carb high-protein energy bars, and your fully-charged cell phone. Keep in mind that cold weather usually makes batteries drain faster, so having your phone fully charged before you head out is a very wise move. You’ll also want to keep it in a pocket that offers some level of protection and insulation against the cold to avoid the risk of damaging it.
Enjoy the unique experience of cold weather running!
We hope that this article has encouraged you to try cold weather running this year and use it as part of your healthy lifestyle to stay fit and have fun. We’re sure that once you experience the beauty of running through a layer of fluffy, untouched powder snow or through a dark morning filled with gently falling snowflakes, you’ll be hooked. Now get out there, stay safe, and enjoy!
Want to discover other new ways to run? Check out our Beginners Guide to Trail Running and learn more.