The Dreaded Winter Run Just Got Warmer
Running in the winter isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and winter doesn’t exactly welcome runners with open arms. The hardest part about getting out the door in winter is the motivation to bear the bone-chilling cold and harsh winds. You’re not alone in avoiding winter running; however, we’ve come up with our favorite tips and tricks to make the cold tolerable enough to keep packing on the miles and maintain your training throughout the winter months.
1. Proper Attire for Running in Winter
Feeling the frigid wind creep inside the door as I let my dog out is enough to send me into a layering frenzy. Usually, I test my layers when I come back to let the dog inside and adjust my outfit accordingly. Dressing as if it feels 10-15 degrees warmer outside is a good rule of thumb—you want to be a little cold when you step outside. As your run progresses, your layering will suit the rise in your body temperature during exertion.
For your base layers, choose winter running gear made with moisture-wicking fabrics. Slip on a running jacket or windbreaker with neck and underarm ventilation zippers over your base layers. When the weather permits, slip over a pair of shorts for an added layer of protection to your core without the hindrance of another pair of tights.
2. Running in Winter = Snot Rockets
Dressing for the cold is not only about staying warm but also protecting your digits and face. Choose a moisture-wicking hat or headband to cover your ear and running earphones. Bright-colored, reflective headwear also doubles as great visibility. Snot rockets are an easy way to turn your neck gaiter into a cold face covering. For your face, avoid fleece or cotton and find a moisture-wicking Buff or balaclava to protect your nose, mouth, and cheeks. Pair that with a smear of Vaseline on any exposed skin to keep away frostbite.
Skip the winter running gloves and go for mittens. Giving your fingers room to move, unlike the strict insulation separating your fingers in gloves, enables your hands to reflect and share their body heat more easily. Shove a hand warmer in there, and it’s bound to get toasty.
3. Protect Your Little Piggies from the Cold
I cannot stress the importance of the correct shoes in the winter. Trench foot is a quick way to a miserable season. A weatherproof pair of Gore-Tex trail running shoes are ideal for winter runs. The larger lugs offer traction with the sleet, snow, and challenging winter trails, as trail running shoes with less upper mesh in the toe box will keep your toes dry. Your Nike Frees won’t do in this scenario. Typically, a clerk in your local running shop can talk you through conditions and features necessary to succeed in those conditions.
While you’re at the running shop, pick up some wool running socks. Wool is naturally moisture-wicking, breathable, and warm. For longer runs, pack an extra pair in your running backpack for a dry change at your halfway point.
4. Day Light Savings and Visibility
The final touches incorporated into your get-up should be reflective materials and lights. Winter weather and daylight savings time rob visibility for runners; early morning and evening runs are dangerous times for runners to be on the road. Carry a headlamp or Nathan StrobeLights to see the ground in front of you and stay visible to passing drivers.
5. Pre-Run Preparation
Running in the winter does require a few pre-meditated plans. If you’re driving to a trailhead or meeting friends for a run, pack a thermos and dry clothes.
Get your blood flowing inside before heading out of your house: jumping jacks, quick daily chores, lunges, whatever gets you going. It’s much easier to get started if you’re already warm.
If you’re waiting for a friend, stay in your vehicle until you’re ready to go. Drink a hot beverage before leaving the house. Make an extra cup and keep it in a coffee thermos for an instant pick-me-up after your chilly run.
6. Running in the Winter
Winter is maintenance time for runners; mileage and maintenance. If you have a flexible schedule, go during the warmest time of the day while the sun is high in the sky; this will keep shadows to a minimum and you out of the shade. Refrain from long out-and-back routes. Focus more on repeat loops of smaller distances so you can cut the run short if the weather turns nasty.
Split your weekend long run into two: one 5-miler in the morning, a second 5-miler in the evening. That way, you’re not shivering from dried sweat at mile 8.
Try running into the wind for your first miles when your skin is still dry. It won’t be pleasant at first, but the wind won’t catch your sweat on your last few miles.
7. Post-Run Cool Down
Your core temperature drops the moment you stop running. Your sweat saturated clothing should come off instantly—all of it, sports bras, compression shorts, headbands, the works. Have a hot shower or bath and change into dry clothes, slip on your favorite socks and beanie, and sip the leftover warm tea in that thermos as you cool down and stretch. Even better than a hot tea, fire up a hot stew. You deserve it after that run.
- 10 Tips to Make Winter Running Less Miserable – Runner’s World
- How to Make Cold Weather Running Bearable in the Dead of Winter – Esquire