You look outside your front window and see the world beautifully covered in white. You’re content with just watching the slowly falling snow while holding your hot cup of morning coffee. I can skip my run today. It’s too cold and it could be slippery.
You figure you’ll wait till January to recommit yourself to your running routine. Right now all you want to do is snuggle under the covers of your warm bed.
You know that you could run in the winter, but you don’t feel like it.
With motivation and proper clothing, running in winter can be enjoyable.
Here are some ways you can stay motivated and be properly prepared for cold, winter running:
The dark, the cold, the snow. These can easily sap our motivation to commit to our running routines.
The most effective way of staying motivated is through accountability and running with others. Having someone hold you accountable to your running goals and routines will spur you to carry them out.
Running with others is another way to keep you from flaking out on your runs. Knowing that your running buddy will be waiting for you will push you to the finish line.
Dress for The Cold
Depending on where you live, you’ll likely have to brave the snow, rain or both while running in winter. In addition, there may be wind and cold temperatures you’ll have to contend with. To be comfortable and safe during your winter runs, it is important to dress appropriately. How do you know how warm to dress? You want to be warm, but you also don’t want to wear too many layers that you get too hot while running. How do you find the right balance?
Some athletes recommend dressing for a temperature of 20 degrees warmer than it really is. The chilliness at the start of your run will go away as your body warms up further into your run.
Remember Your Feet
Nothing is more uncomfortable than wet, cold and prunny feet after a wet, winter run. When running in winter, it’s important to have the appropriate footwear that keep your feet dry and warm. Choose a pair of shoes that have less mesh and wear socks that wick away moisture that also keep your feet warm.
In the winter months, the hours of daylight become shorter meaning your after-work run will be in the dark. For night running, you want to be clearly visible. Wear reflective, brightly-colored clothing and bring along a flashlight or headlamp to make yourself clearly visible. The light will also help you see where you’re going.
Warm Up Pre-run
The cold air won’t seem as bad when you move around and get the blood flowing before your run. The warm-up will also keep your muscles from cramping up from the cold. If you’re meeting others for a group run, don’t stand around outside too long before your run.
Change Quickly Post-Run
After your run, it is important to get warm to avoid the post-run chills. Change out of your damp running clothes and drink something hot. If your hair is wet, put on a dry hat.
Handle the Elements
Winter often brings adverse running conditions. If it isn’t snow and ice, it is likely wind and rain.
On windy runs, it is best to start your run with the wind in your face and have the wind at your back at the end of your run. The wind can easily bring on the chills after you’ve broken a sweat, so you want it at your back.
You can also choose a running course that has an abundance of wind-blocking features, such as buildings.
Running in the rain or snow can result in wet and soggy shoes and socks. Below are handy tricks that minimize the wet discomfort and quickly dry your shoes afterwards:
- Rotate shoes
- Bring extra pairs of shoes and socks
- Wear plastic bags over the feet inside the shoes
- Insert crumpled newspaper inside drying shoes
Take it Slow
Slippery, wet roads and trails can make winter running dangerous. The extremely cold temperatures can also cause frostbite if you’re outside too long.
Instead of doing a long run, try doing multiple shorter runs. Frostbite and hyperthermia are some of the major dangers that you can catch if you’re outside for long periods of time. If you must do a longer run, do it in the middle of the day when it is the warmest.
Don’t be suckered into hibernating this winter. The cold days of winter shouldn’t stop your running routine. If you’re able to overcome the mental barrier of being unmotivated and the physical barrier of not being appropriately dressed or incorrectly handling the elements, you can succeed in maintaining your winter running routine.
Who knows? Maybe running in the cold of winter will be something you enjoy rather than dread.