What to Bring on Your Winter Run

Things work differently in the cold. More specifically, they freeze. That means that if you are used to carrying food, water, or other gear on runs, you must prevent your supplies from going bad in the cold. Use these handy tricks for winter running:

1. Water bottles

Steer clear of small bottles and packs because water freezes faster in smaller amounts. It's better to carry one larger hydration option instead of several small ones. Also, avoid water bottles with mouth pieces. Instead, try screw top or flip top models that are less likely to freeze shut. Some companies offer insulation sleeves for their water bottles.

More: How to Stay Motivated When the Temp Drops

2. Food

If you plan on running long enough to eat food, steer away from gels or gummies. Your gels may become popsicles and your gummies may turn into Jolly Ranchers. Stick with real food during the winter, like a peanut butter sandwich.

3. Night Running Gear

In the winter we get eight hours of daylight or less. Unless you are unemployed or work a night shift, you are likely busy during those hours. Chances are you will run at least occasionally in the dark. When it comes to night running gear, more is better. Go out with a headlamp, a reflective vest, and several blinking red lights to signal your approach. Drivers do not look out for runners as much in the winter.

More: Fueling for Cold-Weather Exercise

4. Cell Phone

There are a thousand situations where you might need to call someone for help in the winter. Always carry a cell phone, even if you're only going a short distance or staying close to home.

5. Patience and Motivation

Winter is a season where you need to get over yourself and just do what you can. That goes for both where you run, as well as how far you run. Doing too much and suffering the consequences is the quickest way to get burnt out on winter running.

For example, you might want to go on that new trail that your friends told you about all summer. But now you realize that your city has only plowed a two-mile loop half an hour from your house. Go do some laps instead. You just can't perform the same during winter as other months. The trails are icy at best and impassible at worst. When it snows badly, stick to the streets.

Mastering what to bring on a winter run can keep your experiences enjoyable.

More: Cold-Weather Training and Your Body

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About the Author

Christian Peterson has run distances from a few miles to a several marathons and an ultramarathon barefoot and in minimal shoes. He became the president of the Barefoot Runners Society here in Minnesota. He has written articles for Barefoot Running University, and been featured in local television, radio, and news as an expert on the topic of barefoot running.

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