Even the most dedicated runners may find that it is difficult to motivate themselves to run during the winter. As someone who loves running but does not like to be cold, this was a challenge. I tried to run on indoor tracks and treadmills at the gym, but they could not compare to the free feeling of running outdoors. Here I list a few tips for running in the cold.
Dress in Layers
Layers are key because they keep you warm and protected. A good rule of thumb is to dress for weather that is 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature outside. So if it is 30 degrees F, wear what you might normally wear in 50 degree F weather.
Top: For the top, I recommend two to three layers. The base layer should be a wicking shirt made of fabric such as polyester. This layer helps to wick away sweat from your body and keep you dry during your run. The middle layer can be made of a warm, lightweight material with minimal bulk. A fleece would be perfect. The outer layer should also serve to keep heat in and protect you from the elements. Depending on the weather, this layer can be a windbreaker, a hoodie, or a shell jacket. If it's not too cold outside, you can skip the outer layer. Or you can always take it off mid-run and tie it around your waist.
Bottom: Personally, I prefer to wear sporty pants with a thermal layer underneath if I need it. Tights seem to work well for a lot of people, as well.
Other: Beanies are great for keeping you warm, especially since you lose a lot of heat through your head. For girls with ponytails, fleece headbands are also great. I don't find scarves too helpful, especially if your fleece or outer layer zips up to cover your neck. Scarves do not give you much room to move your head or allow your neck to dissipate perspiration, so I say skip them. Running gloves are a must because you want to protect your hands! Lastly, thick socks such as those made by SmartWool can add warmth while continuing to wick away sweat from your feet.
It is always important to stretch for at least ten minutes during warm-up and cool-down. In the winter, it is especially important to stretch so that your muscles remain flexible. Stiff muscles can make you more prone to injury.
Stick to Paved Roads
Make sure to watch where you step when you are out for a run. If you step on ice, you can fall and seriously injure yourself. Skip the park trails that may not have been plowed and instead go for a run on sidewalks that have been plowed and salted.
It may be more difficult to run outside in the winter because the cold can affect your breathing. Drinking enough fluids prior to running can help keep your mucous membranes moist and allow you to tolerate the cold better.
Compromise in Frigid Weather
Of course, sometimes it is just too cold outside to run, so it would be wise to stay indoors to workout at this point. You can hit the treadmill today and return to the outside when the temperature becomes slightly warmer.
I hope that this article motivates you to give winter running a try. Enjoy your run!