This time of year can be tough on even the most die-hard runner. With less sunlight and lower temperatures, it’s easy to find yourself lacking the energy and motivation you once had. But, it’s when you feel the least like running that you should make the time to run. Running acts as a natural de-stressor and just 20 minutes can improve your mood and motivate you to do more. So get outside and really enjoy this cold running season with the following winter weather tips:
1. Be flexible.
Winter is great for maintenance runs. Forget about speed and time and focus on just running. Your winter running will not be the same as spring. If you normally run in the early morning and the temps are below zero, be willing to rearrange your schedule to run later in the day. If you can be flexible, you’ll have a greater chance of sticking with your winter routine.
2. Set a Winter goal.
Plan to participate in a themed race. Google “chilly cheeks “or something like that and you’re sure to find something fun. This will help keep you motivated about training in such cold temperatures.
3. Wear the proper gear.
Running in freezing temps is safe as long as the roads are free of ice and you’re properly dressed. Dress as if it’s 15 to 20 degrees warmer outside. You should feel slightly cold at the start of your run.
Snug fitting layers are best. Start with a moisture-wicking base, a lightweight fleece, and then an outer light-weight jacket. Moisture-wicking tights, with or without an outer-pant layer, work well to keep the legs warm.
Don’t forget your hat and gloves. Remember, most of the heat we lose escapes from our heads. If you find the cold air hurts your throat, cover your mouth with a neck warmer or wear a face mask. Applying a thin layer of Vaseline to your cheeks and lips will protect against wind-burn and chapping.
Most importantly , make sure to wear moisture-wicking socks to keep the feet warm and dry. If you will be running a lot in the snow, it will help to wear shoes with the least amount of mesh to keep water out. Some people require more or less layers. It will take a few runs to figure out what works best for you.
With limited hours of daylight in winter, you’ll most likely be doing some, if not all, of your runs in the dark.
Always wear reflective gear. Don’t ever assume drivers can see you. With snow drifts, icy windshields, and darkness it’s almost a given they won’t.
Carry a flashlight.
Remember to hydrate. You won’t feel as hot or sweat as much as you do in spring and summer, but you still need to hydrate just as much.
Change your clothes as soon as possible after your run. Your core temperature will drop as soon as you stop running. So, make sure to get out of those wet clothes and drink something warm.
Winter running can be exciting and very relaxing. With these tips you can use the season to focus on getting back to the basics of running and enjoying Mother Nature. It’s an opportunity to refocus, set new goals, and prepare for the spring running season.
Written by Genie Bianchi, RRCA Coach