There are a lot of challenges that come to mind when you think of running in winter weather. First and foremost is in winter, it’s often c-c-c-cold out. : ) And who really enjoys going outside and getting chilled to the bone? Not me. What’s funny is, when you hear the wind whistling or watch the news and see the temps are predicted to drop into the teens or single digits (or worse), most SANE people’s reaction is NOT, “Ooooo, SWEEEET!” Unless, of course, you like ice fishing. : )
But one of the things that is AWESOME about running in the cold is that you don’t have to worry much about overheating. Yes, you have to be careful about becoming dehydrated (and frostbite if you're going out in crazy cold weather [don’t]), but because you’re not dealing with heat, your body has the potential of functioning much better for longer (given that you don’t first freeze solid : ). But the winter months can be the ideal time to pump up your miles and get ready for a spring marathon or half-marathon. The miles are much easier in colder weather for most runners when compared to doing the same number of miles in mid-summer and really, the tough part of running in winter is just convincing yourself to get out the door.
So, here are a few things to help make it easier to motivate yourself to get out the door and get some miles in:
1) Give yourself a goal. Pick a spring marathon or half-marathon. If you have the means, pick one you can travel to where your chances of getting snowed or iced out are less; otherwise pick a bigger race with a long history of successful runs (less likelihood of cancelling due to weather).
2) Involve a running partner in your effort – nothing is more motivational than peer pressure . . . if you know someone is going to be waiting on you run, you both end up showing up when otherwise, if left up to your individual choices, you may have both just slept in instead.
3) As far as I’m concerned, the first layer of running clothes can easily double as pajamas . . . you wear them to bed and when you get up, you’re already halfway dressed for your run – have the rest of your clothes laid out.
4) Be sure to put hand lotion on and if your feet tend to get cold, coat them in some petroleum jelly before your run – helps to keep your hands and feet warmer.
5) Wicking clothing and layering your clothing are ESSENTIALS for cold-weather running.
6) If you have to stop and go into a building to use a restroom, be sure to remove your hat and gloves ASAP so you don’t sweat a ton in them (nothing worse than going back out in the cold and your hat and gloves are now wet with sweat because the temp difference inside was so much different).
7) Find a warm pair of wicking tights and buy them : ) Too many tights, in my opinion, are made for those who need tights at 40 degrees. For COLD running, I like heavier, thick tights that wick and almost feel like they’re fleeced lined (warm legs mean warm muscles : ).
8) If you’re looking for a running jacket, make sure that it has a lip/flap that goes fully over the zipper or fully behind the zipper so that wind can’t penetrate straight through it. Nothing makes running in cold weather more challenging than choosing the WRONG clothes to run in . . . there’s nothing fun about running when your core gets cold or your legs and feet go numb! : )
9) You can spend a lot of money on brand-named running gloves, but really, I’ve found the cheap cotton work gloves (often called “jersey” gloves and come in dark brown) are my warmest pair of running gloves . . . why? Because I can pull my fingers in from the glove fingers easily to get them warm if it’s really cold; otherwise the looseness of the glove helps to trap the warmed air inside the glove, insulating my hands. Also, because they cost between 69¢ and $2 a pair, I don’t mind doing some cross training in them.
10) Speaking of cross training, I was home for Christmas this year (Northeast Wisconsin) and one of the days was colder than I’ve gotten used to down here in Southwest Missouri. The wind chill was low teens if not single digits. So, what I did was a cross-training workout in a nearby park’s parking lot. After a mile or so warm-up, I ran about a quarter mile in the parking lot (loops) and then did an exercise such as 20 jumping jacks, 20 push-ups, 20 tricep dips (park bench), 20 mountain climbers, or pull-ups using the monkey bars, etc. The idea being getting my arms and upper body more involved and getting my heart rate up higher (the result was it kept my entire body warm, it was a great workout, and the temperature didn’t bother me : )
Well, I hope some of these tips prove helpful to you!
Have an awesome run today and an even better New Year’s!