Fewer hours of daylight and falling temperatures don’t mean you have to go into hibernation this winter. Running in cold weather can boost your energy level, shaking off those winter blues, and making sure you’ll still be in shape by the time spring rolls around.
The following suggestions for running in the cold will ensure that you stay warm and safe.
1. Layer up
Start with a base layer made out of synthetic material. The fabric should be moisture-wicking to keep your body dry. Nix the cotton base layers, as they will hold moisture and keep you wet. If it’s freezing, add a middle insulating layer, such as fleece. Finish off with an outer breathable layer, made of Gore-Tex or nylon, which will protect you against snow, rain, and wind.
2. Protect your extremities
A lot of your body heat can escape through your feet and hands, so when going for a run, wear running gloves made out of a moisture-wicking fabric. On freezing days, opt for mittens, as your fingers will retain body heat. If you still feel your hands getting too cold, try using disposable heat packs, which will help keep your hands warm and toasty.
You can keep your feet warm by using a wicking sock liner under your wool or polar fleece socks, just make sure that your running shoes are wide enough, so the thicker socks fit comfortably.
3. Don’t overdress
Once you get moving, you’re going to warm up, so it’s best if you start your run feeling a bit chilly. If you start your run feeling warm, you’re going to overheat quickly and begin to sweat early in your workout, so always dress as if it were 20 degrees warmer.
4. Cover your head
Wearing a beanie or hat will help to prevent heat loss, so there is more heat in your circulatory system to distribute to the rest of your body. On icy days, wear a scarf or mask over your mouth, protecting your face.
5. Stay hydrated
Adequate hydration is essential even during winter, as you still sweat and lose fluids. The cold air also has a drying effect, increasing your dehydration risk. Always have a bottle of water with you, and take frequent sips before, during, and after your workout.
6. Be visible
If possible, avoid running in the dark, but with the short days, it might be difficult. Whenever running in the dark, wear reflective gear and if running in the snow, wear bright colors to be easily spotted.