Cold weather running can be challenging, especially if you’re unsure of how to dress and prepare. Unlike warm-weather runs, winter running requires a bit more effort before hitting the pavement, or sometimes snow.
And what better time than autumn to fully prepare for cold weather running (hello, new gear!) After all, staying active in the winter is a surefire way to avoid winter weight gain, lessen your chances of experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and let’s not forget about breathing in fresh air.
With that, expert Amy Goblirsch, registered dietitian and avid runner who has completed seven marathons, an ultra-marathon, and countless half marathons, comes in hot with tips to keep you warm and safe on your winter runs.
Following These Steps Will Set You Up for Winter Running Success
Frigid temps don’t mean you have to skip your running workout, however, following these preparation tips from Goblirsch will ensure a safe winter run.
1. Never Skip a Warmup
Warmups are a vital part of running and ensure your muscles and joints are ready for the run, especially in the cold weather. Warming up inside can help get your muscles ready to go and prepared for the cold conditions.
Goblirsch explains all you simply need is ten minutes to get your blood circulating and muscles primed for the run. This can look like utilizing a cardio machine, jumping rope, dancing, following a warm-up video via the internet, and so on.
2. Dress Safely
Goblirsch attests to proper dressing as she has been able to run outside with a high temp of negative thirty degrees thanks to wearing the proper attire.
Here’s a Look at Your Winter Running Attire:
Base layer: The first layer is key to staying warm. Focus on a moisture-wicking or wool long-sleeve to keep your skin dry. The wrong fabric can lead to sweat sitting on your skin causing your body temperature to drop which is extremely dangerous.
Pants: When choosing pants, opt for a thermal or fleece-lined which is designed for cold weather runs. For extra warmth, wear a pair of compression shorts. This can be worn underneath or on top of the tights – this helps keep your glutes from getting too cold.
Jacket: This is the most important piece of clothing. Look for a jacket that is lightweight, moisture-wicking, and wind-resistant. For really cold days. Goblirsch recommends the Down For it All jacket from Lululemon and explains the investment is worth it. · Face protection: A balaclava or buff can protect the skin on your face which is needed for windy and snowy days.
Socks/Feet: Wool needs to be a go-to fabric to look for when picking out a pair of socks. It is warm and will not allow moisture to sit on your skin.
- Cold weather can cause damage to your skin. Adding a layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor to any exposed skin, such as your face, can help protect it on cold days.
- Sunglasses can fog up, if you want to protect your eyes, opt for a pair of ski goggles; this will avoid compromised vision.
3. Don’t Ever Forget to Hydrate
When it comes to running in the winter you may not feel thirsty or even notice yourself sweating like you would in hotter conditions. “Even though you may not notice this, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to hydrate and replenish electrolytes,” says Goblirsch. “Water fountains can be turned off so you may find yourself needing to carry your hydration.”
Keep in mind, that you need to be strategic about how you carry your water to ensure it doesn’t freeze. Goblirsch recommends wrapping a buff around the nozzle which can help prevent it from freezing; as can blowing into the nozzle after taking a drink.
4. Practice Breathing Techniques When the Air is Freezing
Cold air can be an irritant and can cause a coughing fit during or after a run. “Wearing a buff, scarf, or balaclava can create a barrier that warms up the air before you breathe it in and makes the air less of an irritant.” Says the avid runner.
5. Learn How to Navigate Slippery Terrain
Wearing spikes (exospikes are Goblirsch’s go-to) can help make slippery and icy conditions more manageable. “Even when wearing spikes, it’s important to be aware of conditions to prevent falling and seriously injuring yourself; If running when road conditions are less than ideal, take it easy and slow down.” Case in point, this is not the time to try and nail your speed workout.
Here’s When to Avoid Winter Running
If there is a wind chill advisory, Goblirsch stresses to be cautious when hitting the pavement. However, the marathon runner explains with the right gear there’s not going to be many temps where running would be deemed unsafe, placing the importance of having the right gear and protecting any exposed skin.
Keep in Mind:
There is no shame in opting for a treadmill run on the cold days. The most important thing is to keep moving as the days get darker and colder.
However, these expert tips will keep you moving and enjoying fresh air all winter long.