10 Tips for Running in Cold Weather
The cold snap is on it’s way just in time for Christmas. And while Santa and his elves may be running around in their warm toy warehouse, the majority of us will be out on the streets, greenways, and trails braving the conditions. Although not particularly pleasant, not so long ago, many of us may have been bemoaning the heat, so maybe you’ll take this over the blistering summer training schedule?
Nevertheless, here’s some of my top tips and recommendations to help you get through this cold spell!
- Wear appropriate clothing for the weather. Layering is key to staying warm in the cold. Make sure to wear moisture-wicking materials next to your skin to help prevent sweating and then add layers of insulation to keep you warm. Avoid cotton, as it absorbs moisture and can leave you feeling cold and damp.
- Protect your extremities: Your hands, feet, and head lose heat faster than the rest of your body, so be sure to wear gloves, a hat, and warm socks to keep them warm. Your body will naturally try to keep your core warm by restricting blood flow to your extremities, so make sure to protect these areas. Popping in a pair of handwarmers inside the gloves can be a real treat too! Wearing a neck gaiter/snood can also be helpful in keeping the face warm.
- Stay hydrated: It’s important to stay hydrated, even in the cold, even though you may not feel as thirsty. I recommend still carrying a water bottle with you on longer runs (>90min) or planning water stops along the way. It also helps to have a hot drink ready to go as soon as you walk through the door post-run. Cup of tea, anyone?
- Stay visible: Wear reflective gear and carry a flashlight or headlamp if you’re running in low light conditions. This will help you stay visible to traffic and other runners. I also recommend running toward traffic, even when on the sidewalk. This way you get to see oncoming traffic, who may be driving erratically or lose control on any ice. I’ve seen far too many vehicles bump off the road and onto the sidewalk.
- Be aware of the conditions. Check the weather forecast before your run and be aware of any potential hazards such as ice or snow on the ground. If the weather is extremely cold, windy, or icy, it’s best to stay inside or find an alternative form of exercise.
- Warm up properly before you run: If you often skip your warmup, this is not the time of year to be risking it. Your muscles may be tighter in the cold, especially if running in the morning, straight out of bed. Take a few minutes to do some dynamic stretches to get your muscles warmed up before you start running. You may even opt to do them indoors to stay warmer a little while longer.
- Use caution on slippery surfaces: If you’re running on icy or slippery surfaces, take shorter strides and plant your feet firmly to avoid slipping.
- Wear the right shoes: Invest in a good pair of running shoes with good traction to help prevent falls on slippery surfaces.
- Listen to your body. If you start to feel very cold or your body is telling you to stop, listen to it. It is better to be safe than to push yourself too hard and risk injury or illness.
- Understand that your Heart Rate may act unusual while running in these conditions. Breathing in cold air can irritate your respiratory system, leading to shortness of breath and an increased heart rate. In contrast, the cold can also cause your blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to a decrease in blood flow and a lower heart rate. So don’t stress too much about heart rate during this time, focus on that feel.