Winter running season is one of the most challenging for runners in many areas of the world. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area that experiences all four seasons, you know how beautiful the winter can be – but you also know the struggles it brings. Stepping outside into the cold wind alone makes you question your sanity.
These winter running tips are essential for a healthy, successful season.
Cold weather running is challenging, there’s no doubt about it. No matter how dedicated you are or how well you prepare, the bitter cold and icy roads are bound to slow you down at some point.
Finding winter running success comes from having the knowledge, perseverance, and motivation to make the most of the season.
These eight cold weather running tips will prepare you for winter running season and help you make the most of this challenging season.
8 Winter Running Tips to Conquer the Season
Having a plan is a great way to stay motivated and active throughout the winter. But sometimes sticking to that plan can do more harm than good. If you find yourself with a scheduled speed workout or long run on the day of a snow storm – trudging outside to fit in the miles may leave you with an injury or illness.
Rather than sticking to your schedule without fail, be flexible with your weekly plan. Check the weather ahead of time and swap runs around so you are able to run on the warmer, dry days in the daylight. If you have to fit in some mileage in the snow, be willing to slow your pace down to successfully conquer the terrain.
And if all else fails when the weather is miserable, be willing to fit those speed sessions in on a treadmill to avoid sliding on ice outside.
>>Check out the ultimate winter running plan here!
Layer up – except your feet.
Winter usually calls for big, poofy coats, heavy boots and warm mittens. But when we head outside for a cold weather run, the last thing we want is to be bogged down with heavy clothing.
To stay warm during the winter running season, you’ll want to dress in light layers. Find a warm base layer that fits your body comfortably, and add on from there. Despite what we might think, it actually is possible to stay warm on the run without looking like a human marshmallow.
As tempting as it may seem, avoid layers on your feet. Layering socks can cause our shoes to fit different, altering our foot strike and eventually lead to injury. Rather than opting for layers, find some quality cold weather running socks to keep your feet warm throughout the run.
Dress as if it’s 10 degrees warmer.
When we first step outside, the cold weather feels brutal compared to the warmth of our home. But remember, it doesn’t take long to warm up on the run.
Check the weather forecast before heading out on a winter run and aim to dress as if it’s at least 10 degrees warmer. If the real-feel temperature is 22 degrees, layer up as if it is 32.
This rule of thumb helps compensate for the increased body temperature we have while running and help you avoid overheating – which actually leads to sweating and becoming even colder as it dries.
Warm up before you run.
Getting started on a cold weather run can feel miserable after stepping into the freezing air from a warm house. As soon as you start running, the wind hits your face and the air feels nearly unbearable.
Avoid such a rough transition by warming up before you run. Completing some dynamic warm up exercises before heading out for a winter run gets your blood flowing, muscles warm and increases your core body temperature before you even begin.
By the time you start running, your muscles will feel loose and ready to conquer the cold. Adding a warm up to your pre-run routine in the winter will also help avoid injury from starting out on cold, tight muscles.
Try some of these dynamic warm up exercises before your next run.
Keep your head and core warm.
There is nothing more miserable that getting a few miles into a run and realizing you didn’t dress warm enough.
Your first priority when layering for a run should be to keep your head and core warm. These areas are the primary source of heat and blood flow within your body – a cold core or head translate to chills throughout your entire body.
Men and women with thin hair should be especially conscious of keeping their heads warm on a run. Try a lightweight hat or thick headband to keep heat from escaping. Vests and base layers are a great way to ensure your core stay warm throughout all those cold weather miles.
Change quickly when you return.
The idea of coming home to a warm house or car sound amazing in the midst of a winter run. But after stepping into that warm house and sitting down for a few minutes, you may realize that you’re actually feeling more chilled than you did during the run.
Change out of those running clothes quickly, within a few minutes of returning home. Sitting around in tight, wet clothes will keep you chilled after a run once the sweat starts to evaporate.
Make changing into dry clothes a priority in your post run routine during the winter.
Check out some more thoughts runners have during a winter run for a good laugh.
It’s great to head out for a run knowing you won’t feel like you’re dying of thirst, but this doesn’t mean that you aren’t losing any water.
Quenching your thirst can feel especially during hot, humid runs in the summer – but this usually means we are more inclined to drink water. During the winter, it feels like we can run for miles without getting thirsty.
Staying hydrated in the winter is just as important as the summer, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Make a point to continue to bring water with you on those long runs, and rehydrate as soon as you get home – even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Protect your face and lips.
Wind, snow, sleet and ice are just some of the challenges that winter running weather brings. These challenging weather conditions making running into the wind brutal. Chilly temperatures alone can cause damage to your skin and lips, even on a calm day.
Protect your face and lips on every winter run with some sort of neck or face guard and plenty of chapstick. Keep your neck and cheeks warm and protected from the elements, with plenty of chapstick to avoid wind burn and dry, cracked lips on the run.
This winter running tips will help you stay safe and sane throughout the season. It is when we experience the most challenges that we also experience the most growth – and winter running season will certainly help you grow as a runner.
Persevering through the difficulties of cold weather running will only make you stronger come spring. Use this time to build a running base, maintain fitness, or train for a goal. Be flexible with your training and cut yourself some slack.
Remember that you are stronger after each and every run – especially the tough ones. Winter running season doesn’t have to be miserable. Use these tips to make the most of this new season!