Running Through the Winter: How To Prepare For Cold Weather Running

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While spring races are wonderful, they also mean you must power through many cold weather runs. Of course, winter running isn’t easy. It’s difficult to get out the door when it’s cold outside—or worse, it’s snowing and/or there’s ice on the ground. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for cold weather runs and to have a backup plan for days when running outside is unbearable.

The Gear

Perhaps the best thing you can do when preparing for cold weather runs is to have multiple layers. That way, you can shed a layer, or add one on without much difficulty according to your personal preference. For cold weather runs, up top I like to wear a base layer like UnderArmour paired with a form fitting (AKA not bulky) fleece sweater and a vest. On the bottom, thick running tights (with plenty of pockets for tissues and fuel!) and thick socks usually do the trick. However, everyone is different. Maybe you need more than a vest over your fleece to keep you warm. Opting for a wind-resistant jacket might do the trick. Ski gloves are a good choice for keeping your hands warm, or if you’re in a bind, fuzzy socks over your regular gloves might do the trick.

When it’s wet and/or snowy outside, bagging your feet INSIDE your shoes can keep water and dampness from seeping in to your toes. You may look silly, but you’ll be WARM.

Another thing I like to do (beyond wearing a headband to cover my ears) is to cover my face as much as possible during winter runs to keep it from getting windblown and chapped. You can use a neck warmer, bandana, or the more breathable BUFF. Adding a reflective BUFF to your outfit will keep you seen on the street during dimly lit runs without sabotaging your warmth.


How To Layer

You may think starting a run feeling cozy is the way to go, but you should actually layer up so that your first mile or so are less than comfortable. Don’t worry — you’ll warm up as you start to sweat and heat up. Starting off too warm, or too cozy, could cause you to overheat too quickly. The idea is that your body temperature will rise as you run, leading to a more comfortable scenario a few minutes into your route.


Have A Backup Plan

Some days, it will really be too cold, too icy, or too dangerous to run. It’s helpful to have a backup plan during those times, whether it’s a bodyweight circuit you can do at home to at least get some exercise in, or by joining a cheap gym to have access to a treadmill. Don’t get stuck without a back up plan, and don’t let bad weather be an excuse for not getting your workout in!


Stay Focused

Above all things, when the weather gets tough, remember: So are you! The weather is always a gamble on race day. The chances of having beautiful weather versus a wet and windy race are quite similar, so treat your training runs as practice to make yourself prepared for whatever comes your way!

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