Don’t let the cold keep you inside! Follow these tips for running in the winter.
“It is that time of year again where winter weather can cause havoc on the roadways and give us extra excuses to sit on the couch under a warm blanket watching movies with any free time. However, winter weather does not have to prevent you from staying consistent with your exercise plan. Knowing some key tips and techniques can help you beat the wintertime woes and stay safe while being outside.
First, be sure to dress in warm but thin layers. A base layer of light synthetic material will help remove moisture from your skin keeping you warm. Use a breathable outer layer such as a rain jacket that will block the wind and keep the cold out. In extremely cold conditions a thermal middle layer should also be used for extra warmth.
Avoid cotton as this will hold moisture in and keep you cold.
Heat will escape any exposed area so be sure to keep your hands, ankles, and head covered. I like the Nike Thermal running gloves and hat as these seem to provide the best all-around comfort for most outings. For extreme conditions, I wear my Nike gloves under thicker wool gloves.
To keep your feet warm in extreme conditions you can wear thinner running socks, under thicker wool socks. My favorite running socks are Feetures as they keep my feet dry and provide a snug no-slip fit.
Wear shoes with minimal mesh if possible to reduce sloshing around inside your shoes in the wet conditions. Most trail running shoes should provide some moisture resistance. I use the Altra TIMP Trail which is slightly water resistant and has drains to help keep your foot dry.
Also, in extreme conditions, you should wear a scarf or ski mask to help reduce the irritation to your lungs and bronchial tubes. Breathing in primarily through your nose, and exhaling through your mouth will help to warm the air and reduce the risk of coughing or asthma-like symptoms that could arise. Breathing in through your nose decreases the total amount of oxygen you can take in, so more than likely you will need to run at a slightly lower intensity or pace to maintain this style of breathing.
Your body temperature will rise during the course of a walk or run so to avoid overdressing plan on starting the run feeling “slightly chilly”. This will prevent overheating and having to carry multiple items of clothing to finish the run.
Another tip is to start your run into the wind, as this will be the most difficult part, allowing you to finish with the wind at your back.
As the daylight hours of the day shorten many of us find it hard to schedule a run when the sun is out. To avoid potential injury be sure to dress in highly reflective gear from head to toe. Wear a headlamp to help light your way to avoid any missteps. Reflective vest, reflective strips, and blinking lights can help you stand out and be noticed.
Running through snow and ice can prove to be challenging and pose certain risks of injury. Besides slipping and falling you are at increased risk of overuse injuries to the Achilles tendon and other body parts.
Plan your route to be as clear of snow as possible, and with minimal traffic.
You may have to decrease your typical stride length and increase your cadence. This allows your legs to land closer to your center of mass, and give you an increased ability to correct yourself if you hit a slick spot.
Avoid running on the ice at all causes. It is nearly impossible to avoid injury when running on ice. If it is icy, find a treadmill or run on an indoor track.
These can pose potential risks in themselves so be sure that you are comfortable using a treadmill*
Maintaining hydration when training in the winter months is important because your body can still become dehydrated in cold weather. Be sure to hydrate throughout the day, and if you will be running over 30 minutes have a hydration source with continued hydration every 15-30 minutes thereafter.
To avoid muscle strain, especially if you will be running at high intensities, a proper warm-up of mobility drills and light stretching is crucial. This can be performed inside one’s home or gym to help increase your body temperature.
Wear sunscreen and chapstick with SPF to protect your skin from damage.
Wear polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and the bright glare off the snow. I have recently been using a pair of Goodr glasses that I really enjoy.
Hopefully, these tips will help you find ways to cope with the winter blues, allowing you to still get outside!”
Content provided by Jordan Umscheid, DPT