Is running one of your resolutions this year? While it may be hard to get excited about running outdoors when the temperatures drop, you don’t have to wait until the spring to get started on this fitness goal! You can get outside and enjoy running in the fresh air as long as you follow a few key safety tips.
What to wear?
Protect yourself against the cold by wearing layered apparel that repels water and wicks moisture away from your skin. Damp clothing can increase heat loss. Wear clothing with a zipper that can be quickly opened up to increase airflow if you start to get too warm.
Your winter running wardrobe should include a running jacket, hat or headband, gloves, tights, and a few long-sleeve shirts. Your body temperature increases as you run, so dress for 15 to 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. This will allow your body temperature to increase and reduce the risk of overheating and excessive sweat.
The cold temperature also decreases the shock absorption of your running shoes. EVA foam cushioning in shoes has been shown to be affected least by the cold so look for shoes with this type of cushioning material. Also, look for shoes made with heavy, waterproof material to keep your feet warm and dry. Wear trail shoes or a traction device like Yak Trax. They will give you better traction and stability in the snow.
Don’t forget to cover your head
You lose about 40% of your body heat through your head. Wearing a hat will help prevent heat loss. If it is really cold, wear a face mask or a scarf over your mouth which will warm the air you breathe and protect your face.
If conditions suddenly get worst or if you slip or get wet you can quickly return home. Avoid running too early in the morning or late at night when the temperature is colder and it may be too dark to see hazardous conditions. And start your run into the wind so you have the wind at your back on your way home. You’ll avoid getting chilled by the wind after you’ve been sweating.
How cold is too cold?
If temps are below zero you shouldn’t run outside for more than 30 minutes or reconsider your outdoor run and opt for an inside workout. Excessive cold decreases your ability to feel pain and may cause injury. Also, the extreme cold temps increase your risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
Do I still need water?
Though you may not feel thirsty and you may not feel like you are losing a lot of water through sweat loss, hydration is still very important. Make sure to take water or a sports drink which will not freeze as quickly as water. It is just as important to drink fluids during your winter runs as it is in the summer.
Know when to stay inside
If the roads are snow or ice covered freezing temps can cause falls and injury. Consider saying indoors and running on a treadmill or doing another indoor fitness activity. Treadmill running is a great way to stay fit and you’ll get a quality workout without risking an injury from slipping on ice.