Fall is officially here which means winter is just around the corner. If the idea of spending the cold winter months running a treadmill makes you cringe, you’re in luck.
It’s totally possible to continue running outdoors during the winter. Many people even find that they perform better when it’s cold outside — they lose less sweat and their heart rates tend to stay lower. You’ll just need to take some extra precautions before you hit the pavement.
Listed below are eight essential winter running tips that will help you stay safe (and warm) when the weather outside is frightful.
1. Choose the Right Material
It can be hard to figure out how to dress for winter runs.
For most people, though, the best approach is to wear thin layers of sweat-wicking material. Cotton holds in moisture and will keep you wet throughout your run; go for synthetic materials like polypropylene instead.
For the outermost layer of your running clothing, nylon is a good fabric to choose. It will help protect you from wind and rain or snow without holding in extra heat and moisture.
2. But, Avoid Overdressing
Layers are important during winter runs. But, it’s important to avoid overdressing. Too much fabric can leave you sweaty and overheated, neither of which is ideal for a long run.
It’s normal to feel a bit cold when you first head out on a winter run. However, once you get moving, you’ll warm up without getting too hot.
A handy rule of thumb that many runners stick to is to dress as though it’s twenty degrees warmer than it actually is.
3. Protect Your Hands and Feet
You lose a lot of body heat through your hands and feet. To keep them warm and safe from the elements, be sure to wear a good pair of gloves or mittens. Look for ones that wick away moisture.
To keep your feet warm, try wearing a sweat-wicking sock liner under a warm pair of polar fleece or wool socks.
Just make sure you have enough room in your shoes while wearing them; otherwise, your feet will feel cramped and your runs will be very uncomfortable.
4. Give Your Feet Some Extra TLC
If you have foot problems like plantar fasciitis or bunions, you may find that your pain and discomfort gets worse during the winter. In between runs, it’s important to give your feet some extra attention so you can feel your best during your runs.
Try wearing some toe separators to stretch out your toes and keep the blood flowing properly. You can also roll your feet over a tennis or lacrosse ball to work out any tension.
5. Keep Your Head Covered
You also lose a lot of heat — approximately 7-10 percent of your body heat — through your head. Be sure to wear a hat or thick headband to keep your head and ears warm while you run.
Keeping your head covered will also give your circulatory system more heat that it can then distribute to the rest of your body.
6. Stay Hydrated
It can be hard to keep yourself properly hydrated during the winter months. After all, when it’s cold, the last thing you probably want to do is drink a cold glass of water.
Your chance of dehydration actually increases during the winter, though, because cold air can be drying. To combat this, drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run.
7. Protect Your Skin
Believe it or not, it’s still possible to get sunburned during the winter. If you’re running while the sun’s out (which is generally recommended since temperatures will be warmer), be sure to wear sunscreen.
Wear a lip balm with SPF in it, too, to protect your lips and keep them from getting chapped by the wind or cold air.
8. Don’t Forget to Warm Up
Finally, remember to warm up thoroughly before your runs. Take a few minutes to run up and down the stairs, jump rope, or do some bodyweight exercises (squats, lunges, jumping jacks, etc.).
Running without warming up increases your injury risk and will just leave you feeling colder at the start of your training session.