It’s almost Super Bowl time, which means the temperatures are downright frigid. You might find your running progress frozen this time of year, and you’re not alone. Although some runners embrace the cooler temperatures, others find the weather downright miserable. Whether you’ve been running for a while but have yet to master winter running or you’re a new runner trying to make it through your first cold season, these tips will help you tackle winter running!
Get Used to It (Slowly): Doesn’t seem like a very helpful tip, does it? What we mean is that you need to give your body a chance to acclimate. Although it doesn’t feel like it right now, you will become more accustomed to running in the colder weather. If you find the cold unbearable, try mixing indoor and outdoor running together by starting your workout indoors until you warm-up, and then heading outside to finish off your run. Your legs and lungs need time to adjust to the changing weather, but the only way that will happen is if you run in it! Your best bet is to get out there a little bit at a time and be consistent.
Do Your Warmup Inside: If you don’t have a treadmill at your disposal, try warming up indoors before starting your run to prevent going out too fast and potentially injuring cold muscles. Plyometric exercises, jumping jacks, high knees, and other drills will get the muscles warm and the heart rate up before you head out. You might find that the cold air even feels refreshing rather than painful once you’re warm! Definitely try warming up indoors for pre-dawn runs when you can’t stand the idea of being out for a second longer than you have to.
Run Slower to Get Faster: The natural tendency is to head out as fast as you can on winter runs to get warm quickly, but running slower can help make winter running more comfortable as you work to acclimatize. By slowing your stride, you’ll keep your breath steady and prevent sharp inhales and exhales, which will prevent that burning-lungs-feeling. Your stride will naturally lengthen as your body warms up.
Mix Up Your Timing: If you’re a strict early morning or late night runner who is struggling in the winter, consider getting your workout in at a different time. We know schedules aren’t always flexible, but if you can run on your lunch break, you might be surprised by how much warmer it is – but it will still be cold enough to keep you from being a sweaty mess in the office! As you get used to the colder weather, you can ease back into your regular schedule.
Dress for the Second Mile: You’ll warm up quickly on the run, so dress for your second mile rather than the first. If you wear layers, you’ll be able to shed some of your outerwear as you get too warm. A good rule of thumb is to dress for your run like it is 20 degrees warmer than the outside air temperature to account for the heat you’ll produce while running. We all have different body parts that are more sensitive to cold than others and those that tend to overheat more quickly, so experiment and find what works for you. If you can’t get rid of that burning-lungs-feeling after trying the other tips, consider wearing a balaclava, which covers the nose and mouth and helps warm the air entering the lungs.