Jogging in winter is often more challenging that one might expect. If you live anywhere that is not tropical, you likely experience some fluctuation in weather during the winter. Running year round means that you’re stuck with one option: running in the cold.
Is jogging in winter healthy?
The first question most people ask themselves as they attempt jogging in winter is whether or not it is safe. That first cold weather jog is often more brutal than expected. As you navigate jogging in snow, winds and freezing temperatures, it’s natural to wonder whether it is actually healthy to be outdoors.
Luckily, jogging in winter is perfectly safe – as long as you take certain precautions and avoid skin exposure when temperatures reach a certain point below zero. But in mild to moderate cold weather, jogging and running is perfectly healthy.
How cold is too cold to jog?
The point at which it officially becomes “too cold” to jog or run varies from person to person. The answer depends on what your body can tolerate as well as the length and intensity of your workout.
When temperatures or the wind chill reach below zero in Fahrenheit, you’ll want to pay close attention to your body. Windy or icy conditions may make conditions unsafe for jogging, and it’s best to avoid long runs or hard workouts when it gets this cold. Stick with short, easy runs where you can be really in-tune with your body’s signals.
How do I start running in the winter?
Many people find that they take a break from jogging in winter. Between the cold weather, snow and darker days, it’s tricky to find a safe time to get outdoors. However, sticking with it can help improve or maintain not only your physical health, but your mental health as well.
Whether you’re hoping to start running for the first time or simply looking to continue jogging in winter, it’s important to take it slow. Allow your body time to adjust to the cold weather, and keep the intensity light as you begin.
Most runners will vouch for the fact that their bodies and mind adjust to the cold weather and snow over time. While the weather might initially feel miserable, it does start to get easier.
Here are a few tips to make jogging in winter as easy and consistent as possible this season.
8 Tips for Jogging in Winter
Regardless of whether you live in a mild climate or find yourself battling constant snow storms, running in the winter can be a great way to maintain your physical and mental health all year. Here are a few tips to keep you motivated and make the cold weather more bearable.
Having a plan is a great way to stay motivated to continue jogging in winter. However, 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 your only choice is jogging in 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 to run in cold weather, 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 while jogging in winter.
>> Check out what to wear running in the winter!
Dress as if it’s 10 degrees warmer.
When we first step outside, jogging in 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 to 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 when stepping out 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 jog will encourage blood flow, warm up your muscles and increase your core body temperature before you even begin.
By the time you start jogging, 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 that could be caused by running with 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 dressing for jogging in winter should be to keep your head, hands 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 a jog in cold weather.
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.
To avoid this, change out of those winter running clothes quickly – within a few minutes of returning home. Sitting around in tight, wet clothes will keep you chilled after a run as 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.
One bonus of jogging in winter is that you likely 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 satisfying 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.
>>Check out everything you need to know about running hydration.
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 make 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 every time you run in the cold with some sort of neck or face guard and plenty of Chapstick or Vaseline. 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.
These 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 jogging in winter 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!