If you live in the Northeast, you may have noticed that the mornings are beginning to get that chill again. Fall is my favorite time of year to run, but we all know that the really cold weather will be here before we know it. And if we have a winter reminiscent of last year, running outdoors will be difficult once again.
Below are some things that I try to keep in mind when I head out for a run in the winter. Share some of your best tips for winter running!
Don’t dress for the start of the run:
It’s normal to step outside, feel how chilly it is and run inside for another layer. But if you dress for the start of the run–and are toasty when you begin–you are overdressed. It’s better to be chilly for the first few miles of your run. This is especially true if you are planning to run a long distance. Or if you are planning to run as the sun comes up and the temperature rises. Your body will generate a lot of heat and will keep you warm once you are warmed up (which will take around 10 minutes).
Layer it up:
Opt for lighter, comfortable, and breathable clothing as opposed to something bulky and constricting.
- Base Layer: A thin, fitted tank top or short sleeve shirt will help to keep your core warm.
- Middle Layer: Wear a thicker long sleeve top to keep you insulated.
- Outer Layer: Opt for a light jacket, preferably something water and wind resistant, to protect against the elements.
Protect your Extremities:
These are the areas where heat tends to leave the body. If you keep your extremities warm, you’ll feel warm on the run.
- Hands: There are a wide range of running gloves and mittens available depending on how cold your hands get while running. You may need to try a few different gloves/mittens before you find the ones that work best for you.
- Feet: If your feet feel cold after a run, consider wearing warmer socks. Some running socks are designed for colder weather and if those don’t do the trick, consider hiking socks!
- Head: There are headbands and hats that will keep your ears and head warm. If it’s precipitating, consider wearing a visor with a headband underneath (to protect your ears).
- Neck: Lots of the cold weather running gear is made with higher necklines. Keeping your neck warm will help keep your core warm.
I pay much more attention to the “feels like” temperature (wind chill) and the wind when I am checking the weather than the actual temperature. A 30 degree calm morning feels much warmer than a 40 degree morning with 20 mph winds.
Build your Mileage:
Just like when it gets hot, it’s a good idea to acclimate yourself AND get comfortable wearing more layers and gear. Start with an easy low mileage day and build from there.
This is a great alternative if you don’t want to feel frozen for the first few miles, but know that you will warm up. Plan your route so you loop back past your house/car/friend’s home/etc.
Type of Run:
For hard workouts, long runs and races, you may want to consider wearing less layers, since you will be working much harder than usual. For recovery, easy and short runs, wearing extra clothes won’t hinder your performance.