Falling temperatures and fewer daylight hours indicate winter is almost here. But they are definitely not an excuse to quit your outdoor running routine. In fact, running in cold weather will help you feel better, boost your energy level, and lose the unwanted weight before the bathing suit season.
Stay healthy and follow these ground rules to ensure your safety and boost performance this winter:
1. Dress in thin layers and choose the right fabrics
When you’re running or moving at full intensity, you feel 20 degrees warmer than your starting temperature. So, when you’re dressing to hit the road, you should choose clothes that keep you warm without overheating and chilling.
Consider wearing several thin layers of clothing, starting with a layer of synthetic material such as polypropylene, which wicks sweat from your body. Avoid wearing cotton because it holds the sweat and will keep you wet.
The right outer layer should help protect you against wind and precipitation, while still letting out heat and moisture. A breathable layer of nylon or Gore-Tex will do the job!
2. Protect your extremities
About 40% of your body heat is lost through your head and 30% escapes through your hands and feet.
When you’re running in low temperatures, make sure you always wear a snug-fitting hat, gloves mittens and wool socks that wick moisture away.
3. Run into the wind
To avoid catching a chill when you’re sweaty, start your run into the wind and finish with it at your back. You can even break this into segments, running into the wind for about 10 minutes, turning around to run with the wind at your back for five minutes, and repeating.
4. Be visible
With limited daylight, it’s more likely that you’ll be running in the dark during the winter. If you can, avoid running in such conditions. But if you have to run at night or early in the morning, wear reflective and fluorescent gear and dress in bright colors, specially if the landscape is covered in snow.
5. Take it easy and forget speed
When running in the cold, you’re at greater risk for a pulled muscle. On such conditions, warm up slowly and run easy.
If you prefer to run in the morning or in the evening, when the temperatures are much colder, try doing it twice a day instead of doing one long run where you might get very cold toward the end.
6. Change quickly after a run
As soon as you stop a physical activity, your core body temperature drops. The same happens if you get wet from rain, snow, or sweat. To avoid chilling or even hypothermia, change to some dry clothes – including socks, gloves and hat – as soon as you can and get warmer at a shelter with a hot drink.
Do you run outside in cold temperatures? Share your own safety tips for cold weather running in the comments below!