I know how it is…
The wind blown snow in your face, the icy roads, below 30 degree temperatures, and how tempting a fireplace and glass of wine sounds, constantly.
Running in the winter… it always seems to be through grin and bear.
Hopefully these nuggets will help you stay inspired, motivated, healthy, and warm while running in the cold weather months!
1. Don’t let comparison rob you of the joy: Your performance in cold weather drops when the temperature is below 40-degrees. Your joints will feel stiffer and more sluggish, your blood vessels constrict, and it’s much harder to warm up your muscles. Don’t be discouraged by the drop in your average pace per mile. Understand that winter is probably not the time your going to be setting new PR’s.
2. Lots of layers, but no cotton – If you are running in below 30-degree weather, layers are an absolute must. Your body is working a lot harder when running in cold temperatures, so you need to make sure you are trapping in as much heat as you can. Especially in the winter time when you are more prone to getting sick. If its below 30-degrees, I usually wear long socks or compression socks (Dri-Fit or non cotton) underneath my fleece-lined leggings. Cotton socks will cause blisters because they will hold in sweat. For my top layers I usually wear a long-sleeve (non cotton) shirt, and a long sleeve micro fleece or thermal half zip on top as my outer layer. If it is raining or snowing, I add waterproof/windproof jacket with a hood. The hood traps in extra heat from escaping from my head and neck. 40% of body heat is lost through your head, so don’t leave for a run without something on it! I usually take my hood off at some point during my run, once I am warmed up. Underneath my hood I wear an ear warmer thick headband. Mittens or gloves are also a must! Whatever you do, don’t wear cotton! (Hint: stick some toe-warmers to your legs and core to keep you warm and peel them off if they get to hot during your run!)
3. Buy you some new winter running clothes! New workout clothes ALWAYS helps motivate! Below are links to some of my favs right now! Buy yourself ONE NEW OUTFIT that you can get excited about mixing and matching with. And don’t forget a fresh pair of socks. This always gets me pumped! Maybe I’m weird…
My Winter Running Favs!
4. Use your weather app – You know your body best and you know what running conditions it has the least tolerance for. Some runners absolutely despise running in the heat, while others stop running in the winter because their bodies can’t handle the cold. If you fall into the second category, figure out what it is about the cold weather that you dislike the most, and avoid that. For me, I can’t stand running in the wind. I would rather run for an hour in 100-degree weather, uphill, at elevation, than run in the wind… Sometimes I use my weather app on my phone to decide if I want to run in the morning, afternoon, or night, based on what the lowest wind speeds are… Call me crazy, but it makes all the difference! Make sure you step outside and test out the weather/road conditions before committing to your run. Your iPhone my have indicated a fresh snowfall an hour agp, but that may have turned to freezing rain or high wind speeds by the time you step outside. Treadmill running is OK. In fact, I encourage it under certain circumstances in the winter!
5. Run the roads: Slipping on the ice or rolling an ankle in the snow is not worth those pretty trails and nice sidewalks. I usually run on the treadmill if I can’t see pavement on the roads, but for the most part the roads are graveled and cleared. I only run in the snow if it’s packed and very dry. I stick to the treadmill if the snow is starting to get slushy aka slippery, or if it’s icy. Be very careful running on the roads when there are lots of cars out. If cars are sliding, or if there is a lot of traffic, it can be very dangerous to run on the road in snowy conditions. ***Make sure if you are running at dust or in the evening that you wear a headlamp, reflective jacket, and carry a light!
6. Heat it up and cool it down: My favorite trick for warming up to run in cold weather is taking a 10-minute hot bath prior to layering up for my run. I have never been a big fan of static stretching (where you stretch an isolated muscle for 30 seconds or so) before runs because there isn’t much benefit to it. In fact, it has proven to weaken your running economy. However, I do like to do some dynamic stretching (stretching for short periods of time while in motion) prior to my runs to warm up my body. After my run I make sure to roll out on my foam roller, and do some static stretching. If I am sore or have any aches or pains, I will ice for 20 minutes after rolling out and stretching that area. It is very important to get some food in your body immediately after completely a cold weather run. Your body is working extra hard to stay warm, so it is craving energy replenishment. Try to have a banana with peanut butter, protein bar, or chocolate milk within 20 minutes after finishing your run so that your body can repair muscle tissues. Eating immediately after a workout will also help you recover quicker so that you can bounce back for your next run!
7. Recruit a buddy: Running in the winter months requires committed and unconditional dedication. Recruit a friend to hold you accountable, and meet for runs at scheduled times. Often times when you don’t have a running buddy it’s much easier to skip runs because no one but you will ever know that you did! But you if are regularly running with someone they will know when you are being lazy or lacking motivation and help encourage you!
8. You still need to HYDRATE:. Hydration is extremely important when you are training in cold weather. Arguably just as important as running in the heat. Your body is working really heard to stay warm, so you need to be hydrated! Cold temperatures trick your body into thinking it’s not sweating, but you probably are. Drink lots of water! I drink lots of hot tea in the winter months as a way to stay hydrated when I am not craving a cold glass of water. Plus, extra fluids will always help combat those winter colds.
All photos @jessicajanaephotography
Shop My Fitness Fav’s Collection in the “SHOP” tab on my home page! – SHOP
My Fitness Fav’s