Brrr! Who turned the cold on? I’m not sure what the weather is doing in your part of the world, but our mild mid-west winter just decided to get cold, like really cold. Chilly weather on its own is annoying enough, but it’s brutal for a runner in training. The word loathe doesn’t quite sum it up for me. However, training must go on and the treadmill is not where I want to log my miles. This leaves one option – running in the cold. It can be done, and with a little tweaking it can be done comfortably.
These are my tips for successful winter running, and I know you can use them, too!
Sometimes the harshest sting of a winter run is simply the first step out the door. Typically, if you can get past the threshold, you’ll get your miles in. One of my most useful tricks for leaving my warm toasty bed is knowing that a friend is out there waiting on me. Making running dates, anytime of the year, but especially in the winter is a great way to silence that inner voice that says, “stay here, go back to bed, it’s so cold outside.”
Just as it’s important to have a reason to get out in the cold, it’s useful to have an incentive to return to. I promise myself a delicious cup of coffee or a favorite breakfast once I return, but that means I have to get the workout in first. Some days, the group I’m meeting promises a big breakfast at a local restaurant so that we all have something to look forward to.
Wear the Right Gear
So once the motivation is squared away, a few tips about clothing will make all the difference on a blustery day. Many times people will recommend dressing like it’s 20 degrees warmer. While it’ll be cold when you’re starting out, you’ll be just right after a mile or so. Getting too hot in the cold just means more sweat that will eventually make you cold once you stop.
There are so many great products designed to keep you warm without forcing you to dress like the abominable snowman. Thinner layers also help you move easier and run more comfortably. The same goes for hands and feet – layers are not the answer, proper gear is. A sweat-wicking sock will keep your feet dry and warm and a great mitten will keep all your fingers nice and toasty.
Endurance Not Speed
Even though you’ll be decked with all the proper gear, it’s still important to remember that most winter miles are just about base building, not speed. When the temps are harsh and sometimes the streets are covered in snow or ice, it’s just important to get in the miles and let the warmer spring runs be for speed. Those cold miles build a great foundation for more intense training, but trying to push the pace in winter conditions can be painful and potentially dangerous.
Dry Off, Fast
Once you’ve gotten in your completely comfortable winter run, quickly get out of those great clothes and get dry and warm. One of the worst feeling is when the chills set in after a winter run. Standing around in the cold after a run for too long is no different than going outside wet in the winter – you’ll freeze. Have dry clothes to change into before you and your group leave for that promised breakfast or before you sit down for your coveted cup of coffee.
Oh, and while you’re drinking that coffee, get a water with it, too. Just because it’s not 100 degrees outside, your body still needs to hydrate like it’s summer.