Welcome back to the second edition of Training Tip Tuesday! I hope everyone enjoyed the first edition with my Top 5 Tips for Beginner Runners. Today we are talking about Tips for Cold Weather Running.
Cold weather running is something I’m fairly new to. Growing up in Arizona, the coldest temperatures I ran in were around 32 degrees, but typically not even that cold. Since moving to Colorado a year and a half ago, I’ve quickly learned what winter really feels like. The past couple weeks we’ve had some bitter cold mornings where the temperatures have hovered around 10-15 degrees and even a few mornings with sub zero temps. Needless to say the cold weather can make running a struggle and can cause your motivation to get outside extremely difficult. However, there are things you can do to make it easier, and today I’m going to share some of my tips!
Tip #1: Layer, Layer, Layer
Layering your running clothes can make all the difference in how comfortable you are going to be on your run. Depending on how cold it is and if you are dealing with wind can determine how many layers you may need. When the temperatures are the in the 20-30 degree range I like to start with a short sleeved or long sleeved base layer and then add a light jacket on top of that. I then wear either full length or capri length tights on my legs. I wear either an ear warmer headband or a beanie, socks that wick away sweat but still keep my feet warm (I like SmartWool), and warm gloves (my hands tend to get cold before anything else). For temperatures between 0 and 10 degrees you’re going to need a little more. Start with a base layer long sleeve shirt (2 if your body temp runs cold) and a jacket similar to this one. Wear a pair of windbreaker pants over your full length tights, warm gloves, and a beanie. Remember you can always take a layer off while you are out running, but you can’t put one on!
Tip #2: Be Seen
For most runners who work an 8-5 job that means that most if not all of their run will be done in the dark. It is so important that runners make themselves visible to drivers. Don’t assume that they can see you, because often times they can’t. The best way to be seen is to wear reflective or fluorescent gear. Wearing a headlamp is another good idea too, not to mention it will help YOU see better as well. This is no time to be worrying about how you look in that bright lime green top, better to look like a giant glowing green bug then end up like one smashed on a car’s windshield!
Tip #3: Don’t Stress About Your Speed
Winter running should be thought of mostly as maintenance running. Go out there and get your miles in, but don’t dwell on speed. More than likely you won’t be setting any personal records when it’s 20 degrees out (unless you’re a polar bear). I know it can be frustrating to see a drop in your times, trust me I have my own struggles with it as well. Keep in mind though that your body is working harder to keep itself warm when it’s cold and you tend to tighten up faster in cold weather, which doesn’t bode well for speedy workouts. Don’t worry though, come spring all those cold miles you put in will pay off with faster times!
Tip #4: Spend More Time Warming Up
Before heading out into the cold air, get your body warmed up inside. If you have stairs, run up and down them a few times. Do some lunges or jumping jacks for a couple minutes, anything to get the blood flowing and loosen up those muscles. Not only will this help keep your muscles loose before they try to tighten up outside, but overall you will feel warmer when you step out into the cold because you got your blood flowing.
Tip #5: Have a Backup Plan
For those days when running outside just isn’t an option, whether it be because of snow, ice, rain, or brutal cold conditions, make sure you have a backup plan. Just because the weather sucks isn’t an excuse not to get your run in. Although boring, a treadmill can be a lifesaver. I have grown very fond of mine since living in Colorado. On days where the snow is coming down hard or there is too much ice on the ground, I head down to the basement and hop on my treadmill. If you don’t have your own treadmill other options are to head to the gym and use theirs or wait out the weather and run later in the day. You may need to adjust the workout you had planned for the day, but don’t eliminate it completely!
I hope these tips are useful to those of you dealing with frigid cold right now and hopefully they will make your winter running experience more enjoyable. Keep in mind that winter won’t last forever and those warm, pleasant temperatures will return. Working through the challenges of less than ideal running conditions will make you appreciate those perfect conditions even more!