It’s the beginning of a new year, which is when many athletes, beginners and seasoned alike, look to get back into a routine fitness schedule. But with the ongoing pandemic limiting or even prohibiting indoor workouts, more people are considering outdoor running during these winter months.
Despite the obstacles of cold-weather running, there are great reasons to hit the pavement right now. Since many activities have been halted by the coronavirus pandemic, running outside can be a welcome and needed time of fresh air, exercise, and sunlight, all of which can improve your mood and health. So don’t let the weather discourage you from getting outdoors—running in cooler temperatures is all about planning and preparation. Here are some tips to help you get some much-needed miles on a cold run.
Let’s talk wardrobe: Making sure you wear the necessary clothing, shoes, and gear–all of which are even more important than normal when running in cold temperatures. It is critical you put on enough but not too much, which varies for each person and each environment. Start with a tight-fitting, moisture-wicking base layer for your top and bottom. You can then layer as needed; try a pair of running shorts or a skirt over your tights and a windproof, breathable jacket over your shirt. Go with a moisture-wicking pair of socks for your feet. For your shoes, you want to avoid a lot of mesh, which is common in running shoes and prioritize good traction given the potentially slick roads. If you plan to run a lot, you may even want to consider purchasing a pair of winter-specific shoes. Cover any other exposed skin by adding a beanie, ear coverings, or gloves. Finally, if you are planning to run when it’s dark, wear lights or as much fluorescent and reflective gear as you can.
Before hitting the streets or trails you need to warm up. Some type of pre-run routine is essential to avoid strains and pulls, but this is even more vital before a cold-weather run. Along with a good dynamic stretch sequence, you want to go through some simple warm-up techniques to begin generating heat. If this is a step you normally skimp on, take more time on this ahead of your winter runs.
You’re almost ready to run, but first, check the wind. You want to run into it at the beginning of your run, and have the tailwind at your back at the end. Have your route planned out and consider multiple, smaller loops rather than getting too far away from your home or car. Stay safe by heightening your awareness of your surroundings, footing, and especially vehicles given possibly icy roadways, sidewalks, and trails. And as always, stay hydrated even when you may not feel the need to without the warm temperature.
Prepare a routine for after your run. First, change out of your wet clothes as soon as possible. If you can, take a quick shower or drink a hot beverage to help regulate your body temperature. You might be jumping in your car if you drove to your running destination so just be ready for these things before leaving the house.
Cold-weather running of course has its challenges, but those can be met and conquered. If you need help, enlist a running partner to support one another even if you aren’t running together. Use your preferred run tracker and set some goals; maybe even sign up for a future race to give yourself an incentive to keep consistency. If you need some cold weather running gear, be sure to check in with our friends at Fleet Feet. So before you stay glued to the couch or opt for the treadmill, get out there and enjoy an invigorating run during this winter season.