Running in the wintertime can be a tricky business when weather conditions aren’t in your favor. These four tips will help you safely make the most of your run:
1. Warm-ups and cool downs are vital to all runners. Warm-ups allow the body and the muscles to prepare for repetitive activities and sports such as running. When the body is not provided with a chance to warm up, runners frequently injure themselves, as they essentially ask their muscles to quickly move from a rested, relaxed state to performing a high impact, high energy activity, which can predispose runners to fatigue and injury. Similarly, cool downs provide the body with an opportunity to revert to its natural state. After performing an activity such as running, a cool down allows the muscles to return to their proper length, which helps avoid tightening and subsequent injury to the muscles.
2. When running during the winter, runners may benefit from wearing multiple layers that are easy to add or remove while running. Running during the wintertime comes with the added challenge of regulating body temperature with a cold environment. Generally, runners tend to feel as if they are running at 10-20° warmer than the actual temperature. Try running with layers like long sleeve shirts, quarter zips, jackets, and vests. Shirts that are worn directly on the skin should be made with moisture-wicking technology to help manage sweat. Each runner will develop their own preference for clothing to wear, including running hats and gloves. It is important to keep your face, ears, and hands warm, so you should use any combination of running attire to do so. Additionally, runners should wear warm socks that will not allow any moisture to affect the feet, especially if running in the rain or after a recent snowfall.
3. Handling the cold air can be tricky. In order to avoid exposing too much of their skin to the cold air, some runners like to use a face mask. Others will use products like Vaseline on their skin. Try them out and see which method works best for you!
4. Safety should be the number one priority when running outdoors. If conditions are icy, runners may opt to use that training day to run indoors on a treadmill/track or to perform a cross training activity/other form of cardiovascular exercise. However, if you are keen on running outdoors with icy conditions, make sure that your shoes will provide you with enough security with traction on the icy patches.