Cold temperatures and darker skies do not mean that your running routine has to be put on hold or on a treadmill. Running in cold weather can be a fun experience if you are prepared and it is always interesting seeing a different time of year from the road. Not only will it get you outside during the winter months, but it can shave off all those pounds that were gained over the holidays. The following are some safety tips for getting the most out of your winter training:
Obviously a big No-no
Dress Smartly â You bottom layer of clothes should always be something that can take away moisture such as DryFit followed by a jacket or shirt that will keep the elements from penetrating your clothes. If it is extra cold a middle layer that is fleece is a good idea for insulation. You normally want to stay away from cotton since it keeps the moisture in, and will keep you wet.
Protect your hands and Feet - As much as 30% of your body heat escapes through your hands and feet, and you also never want your hands to get numb and form a "cold weather claw." If it is a mildly cold day some simple lightweight running gloves will do the trick, but if the temperature gets too cold then mittens would be the better choice. If you know the days are going to be especially cold then you can wear thicker socks to keep your feet from getting numb.
Use your Head and Don't Forget about Your Head - About 40% of your body heat is lost through your head and ears. Wearing some sort of hat or beanie will help prevent heat loss and keep you warm. If the day is mild then a lightweight hat can easily be tucked into your shorts or pants. If it is really cold day, then a face mask or even a scarf over your mouth will help protect you face from the elements.
Pay Attention to Temperature and Wind Chill â Of the wind is strong or you are running straight into the wind it will infiltrate your clothes and cool you down considerably. When your body moves forward on your run that also creates a little bit of wind chill although it is not too bad, but it can still affect some people. IF the temperature drops below zero then it would be a good idea to hit the treadmill and stay inside.
Avoid Overdressing - You're going to warm up once you get moving, so you should feel a little bit chilly when you start your run. A good idea would be going for a 20 minute warm up and then come back to your starting point and shedding clothes that may be too hot to wear for the duration of your run. A nice idea would be to dress as if it is going to be 20 degrees warmer outside then it really is.
Watch for Frostbite â On super cold days it is always a good idea to monitor your fingers, toes, ears, and nose as these are more prone to getting frostbite. They may warm up over the course of the run, but if you notice a patch of hard skin you might have some frostbite. If you think you have this get out of the cold and warm the area immediately and if it does not go away seek medical attention.
Do NOT Stay in Wet Clothes â While on your run if you get wet from rain, snow, or even an excess amount of sweat you are at an increased risk for hypothermia in cold temperatures especially. It is a good idea to get out of your wet clothes immediately after the workout and jump in the shower and try to warm you body up.
Stay Hydrated â Even though you do not realize it, you are still losing fluids in your body. It may not be hot out and you may not be thirsty, but it is always a good idea to stay hydrated so you can avoid the risk of dehydration.
Take it Easy when it's Cold Out â Anyone is at greater risk for pulling a muscle when the temperature is lower so it is always a good idea to warm up with some jogging followed by some stretching to get the muscles loose. If possible, it's a good idea to save the tougher workouts for milder days or maybe running on an indoor track.
The following tips can help make your running experience in cold weather better and it may help you enjoy the season in a whole new way. Be safe and have fun out there.