I’ll be honest. I hate the cold. But I love running, especially outdoors, so I’m always looking for tips on running in the cold weather. This is where my personal trainer and my marvelously helpful runner friends come in handy — they all have tips on how to run in cold weather. I was reluctant, but I’ve tried all their tips, and now, I don’t dread my winter morning runs. Here are 8 must-read tips for running in the cold weather. Brr!
1. Dress in Layers
Baby it’s cold outside, so bundle up! While your first thought may be to leave the layers at home, remember, you can always peel them off later, mid-run… but you can’t add them. Here’s a good rule of thumb: for every ten degrees of chill, add a layer of clothing. I’m most comfortable in a pair of shorts and a running top at 70 degrees, so at 60 degrees, I add a pair of leggings under my shorts and a long-sleeved tee over my top. At 50 degrees, I add another layer, and so on.
2. Don’t Forget Your Hat and Gloves
There’s no magical temperature at which you ought to be sure to wear a hat and gloves. It seems to be different for every runner. I tend to want them most below 50 degrees, but I can’t bring myself to wear anything more than a headband (to cover my ears) and a pair of fingerless gloves until it’s below 35. Experiment and see what works best for you when you’re running in the cold… but don’t forget about your hat and gloves!
3. If You Have Asthma…
I’ve gotten conflicting information about this, so I’ve asked my doctor. She says that cold, dry air can wreak havoc on a runner with asthma, so it’s important to bring your rescue inhaler, and to know when you have to stop running to avoid an asthma attack. She also recommends wearing a scarf to breathe into, since it will warm the air a little, and add a little moisture, when you inhale. It’s still possible for most people with asthma to run in the cold weather, but you have to be careful.
4. Choose the Right Fuel
I usually eat a bowl of cold cereal with a banana before a run in the summer heat, but when I’m running in the cold weather, I want something more substantial, like a bowl of oatmeal. Whatever you decide to use for fuel, make sure it’s not sugary or heavy, and that it contains protein and fiber to give you the energy you need to finish your run. Or, eat after your run, though the rules about what to eat and what to avoid are still the same.
5. Hydration is Still Important
You might be thinking that because you’re running in the cold, you won’t be sweating as much, so you won’t need as much hydration, but that’s not necessarily true. I’ve found that I don’t sweat any less, and that I still require just as much re-hydration as when I run in the heat.
6. Be Seen!
If you’re running in the cold weather, and you’re running in the morning, it’s probably still dark when you’re out there. More than ever, it’s important to make sure you can be seen! Take stock of your running clothes — are they mostly black, like mine? Add some lighter colors. Wear a running vest with reflectors, and add light to your shoes too, if you can.
7. Be Careful of Ice
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost slipped and fallen while running in the cold because of ice. It’s sneaky! It can be nearly invisible, a thin sheet across mud puddles and sidewalks, and definitely a mess of slush on the roads and crosswalks. Be careful not to injure yourself by slipping on ice.
8. Run with a Buddy
There’s nothing quite like running with a friend to motivate and inspire you, especially when you’re running in the cold. It’s a lot more difficult to rationalize skipping a run because it’s chilly when you know someone’s waiting for you…
9. Try Running Indoors
If all else fails, and you just can’t bring yourself to run outside in the cold weather, bring your cardio to the treadmill, indoors. It’s never the same workout as running outside, but it’s better than nothing. You certainly don’t want to have to start your training all over again in the spring, do you?
I still dread running when it’s below freezing, but now I can’t wait to run in the snow! Do you love or loathe running in the cold weather, and why? Which of these ideas do you find most helpful, or is there another tip for running in the cold you’d like to share?
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