Tips for Running in the Cold

If you live anywhere, but Texas, it is probably quite brisk, cold even. Or you may even be seeing snow. When the weather gets cold, it is common to want to stay indoors. Who wants to leave the fireplace or blankets to venture outdoors and freeze?

But during winter months amid holiday feasts and hibernation is when exercise like running is most useful. So what is it going to take to get out of toasty warmth and into high gear?

Mentally Prepare
Preparation (even mental) is key. Visualize your run and how it is going to feel; plan it out mentally. Also, plan your outfit and get your gear (including your running belt) out beforehand. Have your running shoes ready to go by the door. Visual cues tell your brain that it is time to run. 

To help motivate you to run on cold days, do not view your run as a chore. Have something exciting lined up for runs. It could be a jamming playlist or a podcast episode you’ve been saving for later. Furthermore, reward yourself for finishing the run – a foot rub, a nice bath, or hot cocoa comes to mind. 

Dress for the Weather
Make sure you have winter-appropriate gear. You do not want to get outdoors and freeze. Or worse, you do not want to get outside, sweat, and then feel colder. So here are some tips on the gear:

Prepare for wet weather. Wear the right shoes so your feet do not get wet and cold from rain or slush. Also, make sure your socks wick moisture and are made from tech fabric or wool. Wear gloves to make sure you keep your fingers warm and prevent them from going numb. Furthermore, some runners put plastic bags over their socks to further protect their feet from the rain or snow. 

Finally, dress appropriately for running in the cold by wearing layers. As you warm up, drop the layers by keeping them around your waist or in your SPIbelt or by dropping them off in a safe spot (when running a loop).

Keep in mind; it feels warmer outside while running. The longer your run, the hotter it will feel, so adjust accordingly. So even on cold days, dress as if it is at least ten to twenty degrees warmer so that you will not sweat and then get chills from the moisture. And pay attention to the wind chill factor (the feels-like temperature) and adjust to that temperature instead.  

Warm-Up

Warm-up your body before a run. The warmer you get muscles before the run, the less chilly you will feel during the run. Do warm-up exercises of your choice, but do not forget to stretch!

Mind the Wind
Speaking of wind chills, do not run into the wind when you are sweaty. Start runs off toward the wind and return from runs with the wind to your back. This avoids sweaty chills from the cold breeze. 

Safety First
Do not overexert yourself, especially in colder weather. You still have to think about your safety and avoiding frostbite. So if the temperature is too cold, think twice before you run, and run during the warmest time of the day

If it’s really, really cold 
SPIbelt user, Robert Warsak, who has been running in cold weather for 23 years has a few tried and true tricks “I live in NJ and the coldest I have ever gone out running was 0 degrees with a wind chill of -15. The only issue I had was that my one eye kept freezing shut when I would blink. I had to open it with my fingers. Now that is cold. I love my SPI belt and use it to hold my MP3 for music when I run. I love it. When it is really cold, I layer up with the outermost layer being a windproof light jacket. No cotton clothing. Mittens work better than gloves when it is really cold. I also use a neoprene face mask when it is in the single digits. Always a hat and cover the ears.”

Never run in unpredictable inclement weather. Furthermore, in freezing weather, watch out for ice. To help with that, run a familiar path, preferably one already traversed. 

Hopefully, the above tips will help you get and stay motivated before or during your run in the cold. Do not let cold weather be an excuse for not running, as running is one of the best forms of exercise – rain, sleet, or snow. Well, not always, but you catch my drift! Pun intended 🙂

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