A Few Tips for Running in Winter Weather
If you’re a dedicated runner, you probably are determined that snow and below freezing temperatures are not going to stop you from going on your daily run. Although, piling up on the couch, with a good book, a steaming mug of coffee, in front of a roaring fire as the temperature plummets outside is super tempting for all of us, even the most dedicated of runners. However, if you’re on a running routine, you’re going to miss it and if you’re training for a race, you certainly can’t let a little thing like snow, sleet, or icky weather stop you from getting out there and running.
Of course, you could power up the old treadmill, but that’s not the same as getting out in the fresh air to run, which is a whole lot more exhilarating than running in place for an hour. The thing is to be safe and warm while you’re running and to motivate yourself to get out there and run, to begin with.
The thing is that you need to be extremely careful when running in the cold, meaning that you need to have a plan before you head out the door on a cold, frigid, snowy day. There is nothing more miserable than being stuck away from home, in the bitter cold, with the only way to get back to the cozy warmth of your house being on foot.
With that in mind, we’re going to focus this blog on a few tips for running in winter weather that will motivate you to get out there, get it done, and be safe while you’re doing it. So, pull a chair up in front of the fire, grab your mug of coffee, and settle in, while we get to some tips for running in winter weather you might need to know.
Top Tips for Running in Cold Weather Revealed
Yesterday, it was a balmy 50 degrees outside and your run was nice and easy. When you woke up this morning, there was a dusting of snow on the ground and the air was so cold it could freeze your breath. So, now what do you do? Should you run? Should you pull out the treadmill? Should you just forgo running and pile up on the couch to binge-watch Netflix all day? While those last two sound pretty amazing when there is snow on the ground outside, dedicated runners know that the treadmill isn’t the same as outside running and that binge-watching Netflix and not running at all isn’t an option.
However, you could always go into the kitchen and bake up some yummy treats, but then you would feel like you had to get out and run off the extra calories anyway, so it’s better to head on out and get it over with. However, you have to be careful in the winter weather, so that’s where our safety tips come in as well.
With that being said, let’s get started with the tips for running in the winter weather so that you can head out on that run and then get back inside where the heater is going strong.
Dangle A Carrot
The first thing you need to do is motivate yourself to get out in the bitter cold and run. After all, who would willingly leave the warmth of the house to run in 30-degree weather? That binge-watching Netflix is tempting, so why not promise yourself that after your run is over or something else that you’ve been really wanting to do, but haven’t had the time. Sometimes, dangling a carrot for you to follow will get you out the door and moving, so you can get it done and get back home.
Dress the Right Way –
The first thing you need to know is that you can’t dress for running in cold weather, the same way you dress for running in the rest of the seasons. The way you dress can make your break your winter running. Below, we’ll go into a few of the right ways to dress for your winter run.
It’s best to wear several layers of clothing that are thin, instead of thick, because doing so helps to keep the warm air between the layers as you’re running. This keeps you are a lot warmer than if you wore one heavy layer instead, besides being dressed in bulky layers will affect your run anyway and you don’t want that. This goes for socks as well, wearing two pairs of thinner socks will keep your feet warmer than wearing one heavy, thick pair of socks will for sure.
Make Sure that The Fabrics Are Right
Gone are the days of the 1970s and 1980s, where runners had limited fabrics that they could choose for cold weather running. It’s important in today’s modern world to wear the fabric that is right for the weather. There are all kinds of modern fabrics that will help keep you dry and warm, without making you feel uncomfortable that you are dressed in layers. Make sure that you don’t wear cotton as one of your layers because it gets wet and sticks to the skin, which will let the cold in and make you severely uncomfortable to boot.
Wear an Over Jacket Like a Protective Shell
This doesn’t mean that you have to put on a thick, heavy coat to be able to go out on your morning run in the winter weather. But, you do need to wear a protective shell, so to speak. A waterproof windbreaker is a good option, it protects you from the wind but keeps you from being too hot as you run at the same time.
Cover as Much Of Your Exposed Skin as You Can
If you don’t already know, then you should, winter weather that if frigid can quickly lead to frostbite or even hypothermia if you aren’t careful and prepared. Make sure that you cover as much of your exposed skin as you can before you head out on your run. Wear a hat and gloves, not only to protect your skin but to help keep in the heat as well. If it’s really, really cold, find something that will cover your face as well.
Accessorize Properly –
There are a few accessories that you need before you head out on that winter run as well. Those are listed below.
- Mask or neck gaiter
- Wind briefs
- A headlamp
Since daylight isn’t as abundant in the long winter months, it’s always a good idea to have a headlamp with you. This way, you can be seen and can see where you’re going in subpar conditions.
Risks of Running in the Cold
It’s important for you to know the risks of running in cold weather. Many runners who are used to running in the winter already know the risks. However, if you are a beginner running in these conditions for the first time, it’s important that you know them too and takes them very seriously. Below, we will go into a few of the risks you need to be aware of.
One of the biggest risks of running, or even being out in the cold for too long is the possibility of developing frostbite. By definition, frostbite is when your extremities freeze or your skin freezes because they have been exposed to the frigid temperatures for too long. This is a very dangerous condition and you won’t know you have it at first, because it doesn’t hurt. If you feel that you have gotten frostbite on your run, your best bet is to contact your doctor for diagnosis and treatment right away.
Most normal body temps run around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia occurs when the body temp drops below 95 degrees. This could come from being in wet clothes, wearing improper clothing or any other matter of reasons. This is also a serious and deadly condition that needs to be treated as soon as possible, if not sooner. Symptoms of hypothermia include shaking violently, slurred speech, and decreased awareness and not responding to your surroundings. If you experience these symptoms during a run, it’s time to get inside and warm as quickly as you can.
While a concussion can happen in any season of the year, when you’re a runner, they are more apt to happen when running in the winter with the ice and snow. If you fall on the ice and bang your head, you truly need to be checked out by a doctor, in case you have a concussion. Signs and symptoms of a concussion are listed below.
- Slurred speech
- Being disoriented
- Having difficulty answering when being asked a question
If you or someone you have been running with has these symptoms after a fall on the ice, it’s important to get them to the emergency room right away for evaluation because there could be other complications that you haven’t spotted yet.
These are just a few of the risks that you need to watch out for when running in the cold. These are nothing to play with and can be deadly, so be extremely careful when running.
Safety Tips for Running in the Winter Months
It’s also important to know the safety tips for running in the winter weather as well. Below we will go into the biggest tips you need to know, the ones that might just save your life.
Pay Attention to not Only the Temperature but the Wind Chill as Well
While you do need to check the temperature before you head out on a run, you also need to check the wind chill as well. It’s the wind that will penetrate whatever layers you are wearing and cause all kinds of untold problems. Remember, also, that your body will create wind on your run, making the wind chill even lower. A good rule of thumb to follow is, if the temp’s dip below zero or the windchill hits below minus 20, you need to forgo your run, hit that treadmill, and have that binge-watching Netflix day we talked about at the beginning of this blog instead. It’s way too cold to be out there when the temps and the wind chill dip that low.
Remember, there’s more chance for low visibility in the winter than there is in the spring and summer. You want to wear clothing that can easily be seen by motorists, reflective clothing if at all possible. Make sure to wear a headlamp as well for further protection.
Run with a Group
It’s also a good idea to run with a group as well, especially as the days lengthen and it gets dark earlier. Running in a group or with a friend protects you both not only from the elements but from other people that might want to hurt you as well.
Other Safety Tips to Follow
- Don’t overdress
- Never stay in wet clothes
- Stay hydrated
- Take it easy if it’s really frigid outside
- Wear running sunglasses to reduce the glare from the snow and to protect your eyes against the wind
Another important safety precaution to take when you are thinking of running in the winter weather is to consult with your doctor, before going to begin with. Your doctor can tell you if it will hurt your health to be out in the cold weather, and even give you some more tips on how to stay safe and warm.
This concludes our blog on running tips for the winter weather. Remember, safety first and if it’s too cold outside, then stay home and hit the treadmill instead. Happy running and stay warm, everyone!
- Active: 9 Tips for Running in Winter Weather
- Trail Runner: Trail Runner’s Guide to Winter Weather
- Very Well Fit: Cold Weather Running Safety Tips