Tips For Running In Cold Weather

Amy Bird

Just because temperatures are falling and we have fewer hours of daylight doesn’t mean you need to give up on your running routine. Continuing your running routine through the winter is great for boosting energy levels and shaking off those winter blues going around. With a few minor changes you can enjoy great runs even on those frigid days. Check out some tips on how you can make you winter runs just as enjoyable as the rest.

RUSEEN Reflective Apparel - Running in The Snow

Dress Properly

Maybe the most important tip I can give is to dress appropriately for the weather. Start with thin, moisture wicking material as your base layer. Avoid cotton since it will hold in moisture and keep you wet. If it is really cold you can wear some fleece or wool for added insulation as your second layer. Your outer layer should be a breathable nylon material to help protect you from precipitation and against the wind.

Try to cover any exposed skin if possible. Hands, feet and ears are especially at risk for frostbite. Gloves or mittens for the hands and a good beanie or ear muffs make a huge difference and help you contain your body heat. Chemical hand warmers are an inexpensive addition that can be tucked in your gloves or tucked into a pocket with your phone. Go with thicker socks for the feet and if it is really wet out wrap plastic bags around your shoes to keep them dry and warm.

Don’t overdress so that you are comfortable when you go outside. Ideally you should dress as though it is 20º warmer outside than it actually is. Overdressing will cause you to sweat which will end up cooling you rapidly. If you can’t handle going out in the cold try warming up inside to get the blood flowing before you head out.

If it is very chilly it is always a good idea to wear something to cover your face as well. A scarf or facemask will warm the air you breath and protect your face.

One added bonus to running in the cold is that you burn more calories. When it’s cold, you start shivering because muscle movement helps heat up the body. So when you are running in the cold, your body works harder and burns more calories to keep you warm.

Be Visible

With a limited amount of sunlight through the day in winter you are bound to end up running in the dark, occasionally at least. If you can’t avoid it then it is extremely important that you are visible in the dark. The best way to do this is by wearing reflective running gear. Light or neon colored clothing won’t cut it. Even wearing white will only give drivers the ability to see you from 180 feet out and it takes 260 feet at least for a driver to stop if they are going 60 mph. Reflective clothing will help drivers see you from well over 500 feet! Believe me it makes all the difference and you will notice drivers getting over and slowing down much sooner for you, significantly lowering your risk of being struck by a car.

RUSEEN Reflective Apparel -Cold Weather Running Tips - Wearing Reflective Gear - Night Running

A headlamp, small flashlight, and blinky light can be a great addition to your loadout as well. The headlamp or flashlight will help you see better (which is super helpful for dodging those pesky ice patches and the road kill) and the blinky light will help drivers see you better.

Protect Yourself From The Sun

If you are lucky enough to be able to get your run in while it is still light up be sure to protect yourself from the sun's rays. This means sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip balm. Just because it is cold out doesn’t mean the sun's rays are any less damaging. In fact if there is snow on the ground it becomes more intense as the light is reflected back up from below. So be sure to protect yourself from sunburn.

Stay Hydrated

Even with the cold temperatures the risk of dehydration is still relevant. When you run your body is still heating up and losing fluids through sweat and cold air has a drying effect, which can also increase your risk of dehydration. Many public fountains are turned off in the winter so be sure to carry water with you if you are planning on going out on a long run.

Change After Your Run

After your run chances are you will be wet from sweat, snow, rain, or all three. Being wet in cold temperatures raises your risk of hypothermia. Once you have finished your run be sure to change into something warm and dry. If your shoes are wet from the run take the soles out of them and stuff newspaper inside. This will help your shoes dry out quickly and will help them keep their shape.

Adjust Your Route

You want to make sure that your have a well planned route for your cold runs. Considering that it will be a slower more difficult run with the elements against you, you want to be sure that it is something that is not going to overextend you and leave you in the middle of nowhere freezing to death. Keep in mind too that even if you had to stop and wanted to call someone to pick you up that cell phone batteries die very quickly in the cold and sometimes leave the phone unusable until it warms up again. So plan ahead of time to keep yourself best prepared in case of an emergency.

RUSEEN Reflective Apparel - National Air & Space Winter Run

Enjoy Your Run

With the right prep running in the cold is a rewarding and fun experience. I personally have found that I enjoy the cold runs a lot more than the warm summer ones. While it is harder to get started, once I’m moving I find myself much more comfortable in the cool air. Hopefully some of these tips help make your winter runs more enjoyable, cheers!

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