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How To Run Outside On Really Cold Days

Cold weather (and/or the occasional blizzard) get you down?

It can be hard to stay motivated during the winter months when the temperature dips below your comfort level and your eyes burn just looking outside your cold window. Sometimes you just want to stay indoors, drinking coffee, hot chocolate and wine all day (not necessarily in that order), while lounging around in pjs and watching all your DVR’d episodes of Alaska the Last Frontier. BUT HAVE NO FEAR, The Mirnavator, the Winter Runner, is HERE! Below are some tips to get outside, stay warm, and enjoy nature’s snowy bounty:

Have an early spring goal
Sign up for a race or some type of event to keep training. Even though this is typically a slow season for most, it is definitely worth putting something on your calendar to keep you moving during these cold winter months.

Wear multiple layers
Today on my cold run (starting at 23 degrees), I wore two pairs of tights. One was an old pair of Frank Shorter compression tights that I got from a marathon expo. The other was a looser fitting but thicker tight on the outside by Skirt Sports. On the top I wore an old Nike long-sleeved thermal, a Skirt Sports long-sleeved tech shirt and a warm half-zip jacket from the same company. I was toasty the entire time.

Eat before going out
And make sure to carry some extra sustenance if you’re doing a long run. You need calories to help stay warm. On this particular morning, I had a waffle topped with peanut butter, honey and bananas. And coffee. And then more coffee. I also took along a Clifbar and a few Sports Beans.

Keep moving
Nothing ruins a cold run like stopping. If you’ve been sweating, you could become clammy, chilly and even more exhausted than you already are. The fun is over until you start moving again. So get moving.

Get used to running outside by, well, running outside
You will start to love it if you don’t already. I promise. If you’re not used to running in the cold, warm your body up beforehand inside. Maybe do a couple of jumping jacks, burpees, high-knees or butt-kicks before heading out. Beware, however, of making yourself sweaty prior to getting yourself outside. It’s a delicate balance, folks. Also, STOP BEING AFRAID OF THE COLD.

This is also a great way to save on your heating bill. Spend lots of time outside in the cold and you will have not run your heat for that long. Amazing. It’s saved me hundreds of dollars already.

Use Vaseline and/or Body Glide in abundance
Do your lips, face and everything get chapped in the cold? First, make sure you’re well hydrated (read more below). Second, lather yourself freely with either petroleum jelly or body glide to the tune of OMG I HAVE GREASE ALL OVER MY FACE AND HANDS. You will not regret it.

Make sure you are well hydrated before, during and after a run outside in the cold. You may feel less thirsty than you would in the summer, but it’s still extremely important to maintain your general fluid and electrolyte levels in the cold. Beer does NOT count. (Well, before your run anyway…)

Wear good shoes
You don’t necessarily need the most high tech of shoes to enjoy a snowy winter run. If you don’t have Yaktrax or Microspikes and you’re not running in icy conditions, you can wear a good pair of trail shoes. It will be a workout, but well worth the extra energy expended to lift your legs out of the snow! For my lastest snowy run, I ran in Hoka Mafates. They were great!

Wear gloves
If your hands tend to overheat like mine do, tuck them away in your pack, belt or in your bra. Then when you want to have a snowball fight with your running bestie, put them back on and go for the jugular. I usually wear those cheap two-dollar throwaway gloves that you get at marathon expos. I never throw them away though.

Wear a hat
I actually have converted to the buff. There are so many things you can do with them, hat notwithstanding. Keep the heat in your head.

Wrap the toebox of your shoes in duct-tape
If you’re concerned about your toes freezing, I’ve heard this is a way to help keep them warm. I personally haven’t tried it, but why not? Sounds like it might actually work. Good luck!

Actually, I swear by wool socks. I’ve never been disappointed in the incredible body-temperature regulating properties of wool. There are some excellent companies out there making top-quality, thin wool socks specifically for runners. Swiftwicks are my faves.

Take pictures
When running in the cold, and especially during and after snow, stopping (for a short time only) to take pictures can be so rewarding. The exquisite color combinations of glistening white, sharp blue, and muted greens and browns make for excellent and inspirational photography. Get out there and start clicking!

Breathe in the cold air. Enjoy. REPEAT.
Brag to your friends about having spent hours outside being chased free-roaming mountain dogs in 20 degree weather. And then invite them on your next run. They might just be intrigued enough to join you!

Fat Girl Running

Fat Girl Running

My name is Mirna Valerio, aka @TheMirnavator. I am a native of Brooklyn and current resident of northeast Georgia. I'm a Spanish teacher, diversity educator, cross-country coach, marathoner, ultrarunner and blogger, writing about all things running and living life to its fullest while being a larger gal on my blog, Fatgirlrunning. I have a son who is 12 and a hubby who travels a lot, mostly in West Africa. I try to live by example. We only have one body and one life. We must love our bodies and ultimately our entire selves in order to be whole people, in order to live our lives to the fullest. The road to self-acceptance and self-love is a long one, and one that requires a commitment to loving yourself (and spreading that love to others) no matter how you perceive yourself that moment, day, or year. Get out there and be. And run all the roads and trails.