For many of us, running during the winter is not a preference, but if you must drag yourself out the house, here are a few suggestions to help you cope with the elements.
Running in the winter sucks! There I said it. Although this is a matter of opinion, for myself and many others, the bitter cold blast and all that comes with it is an uninviting welcome to put foot to the pavement. So just how do you manage to run in a snowy, icy, cold environment?
It goes without question that if you’re going to run during the winter, you need to dress for the occasion. Whether you’re training for a marathon, or just want to maintain your fitness, it’s important to remember that you must dress according to the climate. It’s easy to over dress during the winter, so avoid bulky, heavy attire that will wear you down. You want to avoid cotton and heavy jackets. Cotton soaks up sweat like a sponge and you will feel like you’re wearing a wet towel once you’re done running.
Also, unless you’re running in the frozen tundra, avoid the heavy coats. This will cause your body to overheat and you will sweat a lot faster. Make sure your clothing is light and made of polyester to wick sweat away from your body. As you step out the house, you should feel chilled instead of feeling warm. This is an early indication that you dressed accordingly.
If you need encouragement to get out the house, grab a running partner and hit the pavement. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing your running buddies getting out there and braving the cold just like you intended to do. Try joining a running group before hand. There’s usually group runs set up during the week depending on what area you’re from. Part of being a running is being social. The more social you are, the more options. Not only will a large running group provide motivation during this time, but they will give great advice for running in the cold. Who knows, you may inspire a few runners along the way.
Enjoy A Midday Run
If your schedule permits, get out there during the middle of the day. Unlike the warmer months, I avoid running 1st thing in the morning. It’s usually colder and as the day goes on, a slight increase in temperature will provide for a more comfort outing. From experience, I find anytime between noon and 4 p.m. is the most comfortable. If you hate the cold as much as I do, you’ll take every advantage you can get!
Keep Your Runs Short
Unless you’re training for a marathon, I wouldn’t suggest running anything longer than a 10k. Depending on the region, exposure to the cold can result in frost bite, especially if your extremities aren’t covered properly. A 4-6 mile run is ideal and just enough to maintain your fitness goals. Also, change-up your routes so that your body adjusts to a variety of terrains and elements. It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality.
There’s no shame in running on the treadmill. Keep in mind this is a back up option to running outdoors. If you absolutely hate the cold, running on the “dreadmill” is your Plan B, but be sure you’re doing it properly. Because it’s a moving platform, the treadmill is doing half the work for you. So it’s important to remember to raise your incline. Adjusting it from 1.0-2.0 will simulate outdoor running and provide some resistance.
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