Running outdoors during the winter months doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Although there are some challenges to running year round, you can learn to enjoy the change in weather and use it as a way to mix up your training routine and get the most out of every workout.
The colder temperatures can be the perfect time to incorporate more strength training, try a new activity, build your endurance and set a foundation for the season ahead. Whether you're running to stay fit, lose weight or simply training for a spring event, follow these winter training tips to take advantage of running during the winter months.
More: Winter Running Tips
Dress for Success
Every runner has clothing preferences when the temperature drops. I wear tights when it drops below 50 degrees, while my buddy wears shorts all the way to 40 degrees. No matter which category you fit into, the key is to think in layers and go with technical fabrics that wick the moisture away from your skin to keep you warm and dry.
There are plenty of options when it comes to running apparel. Choose items that are as versatile as possible so that you'll have options for each of the seasons.
- A half-zip top will keep you warm on cold days and cool on warm, sunny days. It's the most versatile running top in the world.
- A running jacket that is windproof, waterproof and breathable is a must for winter runners.
- Tights come in many different thicknesses. Purchase a pair that best suits your body temperature and the weather conditions you run in most frequently. Avoid tights that have zippers that run down the back of your lower leg. The zipper can put stress on your Achilles and cause problems rubbing against the skin.
- Use a hat or headband to keep your head warm and gloves to cover your hands. In the coldest climates, add a shell mitten over your gloves to create a pocket of warm air in between the two layers. If you've got cold hands like mine, add an air-activated heat pack for longer runs.
- Running in the cold, dry air can irritate your airways and cause a cough, chest tightness and shortness of breath due to bronchoconstriction. Wear a balaclava or neck scarf to help generate more moisture as you breath.
- Add protective layers when the wind chill climbs. Adding a pair of windproof shell pants over your tights will do wonders to keep your legs warm.
- When I raced in the Antarctica Marathon, the winds were 40 miles per hour. I could feel the frigid air pass through my shoes with every step. If you're running in snow and ice, consider wearing gaiters to keep your feet warm and dry.
- Always think about visibility when running in dark or snowy conditions. Reflectivity is added to most apparel. Add flashing lights and a headlamp to be even more visible to traffic.