10 Tips for Winter Running

1 GET MOTIVATED

It’s easy to lose motivation during the cold, dark, snowy winter months. The best way to stay motivated is to use the buddy system. Having someone to hold you accountable will keep you on track towards your running goals.

2 DRESS FOR THE WEATHER

Depending on where you live, you’ll likely have to brave the snow, sleet, rain, and wind. To be comfortable and safe during your winter runs, it’s important to dress appropriately. You may start off cold, but you’ll warm up quickly after a mile or two. Dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer than it is to account for the heat your body will generate. Layers and shirts or jackets will help you regulate your body temperature, especially in the colder months.

3 WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES

When running in winter, it’s important to have the appropriate footwear that keeps your feet warm and dry. Invest in a pair of trail-running shoes with a waterproof upper. If conditions are icy, spikes or screws in your shoes will give you extra gripping power. Wear socks that wick away wetness but keep your feet warm. Nothing is more uncomfortable than wet, cold and pruney feet after a wet, winter run.

4 BE VISIBLE

In the winter months, the daily window of daylight becomes slimmer.  Chances are you’ll be running in the dark before or after work. If you do run in the early morning or evening, run with a buddy, and always wear reflective, fluorescent clothing and gear. Adam Feerst, a coach and trail race director in Denver recommends using a headlamp or carrying a flashlight. Not only will the light help you see where you’re going, but you’ll also be clearly visible to cars passing by. The light will also help you see where you’re going.

5 HYDRATE

Even though it’s cold, you’ll still sweat. Don’t forget to stay hydrated. Make sure you drink before your run and replenish your fluids post-run.

6 RUN IN THE SUN

If you are able to, try to run during the daytime when the sun is high and the weather is warmer. You’ll be able to avoid the coldest parts of the day while absorbing some sunshine and vitamin D. This is the perfect way to kick the winter blues!

7 PRE RUN WARM UP

Start by moving around inside enough to get the blood flowing without breaking a sweat.  The cold won’t feel so cold if you’re warm! Run up and down your stairs, use a jump rope, do some dynamic calisthenics or do a few yoga sun salutations. Your dog might think that you’re crazy but it sure beats freezing your butt off. This will also keep your muscles free from soreness, strain, and cramping up from the cold.

8 PACE YOURSELF

Think strength not speed. Winter running is more about maintenance than speedwork. The safest way to run on snow and ice is to shorten your stride, keep your feet low to the ground and maintain a relaxed posture. You’ll reduce the risk of slipping and straining a muscle. Running in the cold can irritate your lungs and airways, causing coughing, chest tightness or shortness of breath. Wearing a neck scarf helps prevent those symptoms.

9 OUTSMART THE ELEMENTS

Winter often brings undesirable adverse running conditions. Most likely you’ll have to brave the snow, ice, wind, and rain. If it’s windy out, protect exposed skin with Vaseline, Aquaphor, or Body Glide. Run into the wind for the first half of your run, so it’s at your back and all downhill (relatively speaking) during your loop back home.

10 CHANGE QUICKLY (POST-RUN)

After a run, your core body temperature will start to drop quickly. To avoid the post-run chills, it is important to get warm and dry as soon as possible. Change out of your damp running clothes and change into some warm dry clothes. Try warming up your clean clothes in the dryer for a few minutes before putting them on. Next, drink something hot like a steamy beverage or broth. A hearty soup may be a great choice to warm up while refueling your protein and sodium levels.

Keep in mind there will be days where it makes more sense to run inside. Hit the treadmill when it’s dark and icy, if there is dangerous wind chill, or when you’re not feeling 100 percent.

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