It’s hard enough to get out of bed when it’s freezing outside, so lacing on your sneakers and going for a run can be even harder. Running outside during the winter is tricky, but with a little preparation, you can run all winter long without getting frostbite (or getting off track!)
For some tips on being a winter runner, we approached Coach John Henwood from Mile High Run Club. John has won 21 NYRR races, finished 13th place in the New York City Marathon in 2005, and even competed in for New Zealand in the 2004 Olympic Games. Let’s just say, we trust his advice. Here are some tips he gave us:
1. Do your research:
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is when they head out the door before doing some research on the weather. During the winter months, the weather conditions are different everyday, so make sure to check the temperature the night before, so you know what clothes to lay out in advance. It’s also important to check the temperature again that morning so that you know how many layers you’ll actually need. There’s nothing worse than jogging on a rainy day if you didn’t know to wear your waterproof jacket in advance.
2. Get quality gear:
Don’t go cheap when purchasing running gear to keep you warm. You’ll need the appropriate clothing so that you can be well insulated for safety and so you’ll enjoy the run. Stock up on warm mittens, thick socks, beanies, and anything else that will keep you as prepared as possible for the freezing temperatures. Quality gear goes a long way when it comes to running, especially in cold weather. You’ll never regret spending money on clothes that kept you warm all winter long.
3. And the right shoes:
Another huge mistake people make is wearing the wrong running shoes. Just because your regular running shoes gave you enough support over the summer, it doesn’t mean they are the right pair for the winter. Make sure your winter running shoes have enough traction on them, so you don’t slip and fall while running on icy surfaces. You’ll need to do some research on the most protective pairs, so go to the running store and ask an expert to get the right shoe for you.
4. Prepare for the dark:
Running in daylight is ideal, but with limited day light hours during the winter, it’s pretty likely that you’ll have to run in the dark. Whether you’re getting in an early-morning run before work or a late-night workout before bed, you won’t have the same light you would have in the summer months. That’s why buying a headlamp is key for running in the dark. You can find comfortable, lightweight headlamps at any sporting goods store, so make sure to get one that feels right for you.
5. Warm up:
Just like any workout, skipping a warmup can set you up for injury and limited mobility. When running in the winter, it’s important to warm up a little indoors first in order to get your muscles ready. I recommend trying some walking lunges before you head out. Do a few sets around your living room before you head out into the cold. This will ensure your muscles don’t seize up once you start running. Remember to stretch afterwards as well!
6. Stay hydrated:
If running long distances, make sure you are sufficiently hydrated before and during the run. When it’s hot outside, it’s easy for us to drink enough, because we feel more thirsty from the sun’s strong rays. In the winter, we tend to drink less because we feel that if it’s not hot outside, we don’t need to be as hydrated. This assumption is a huge mistake when it comes to running, because your body needs to be hydrated for you to reach your goals. Drink a tall glass of water beforehand, bring a bottle with you, and then replenish afterwards.
7. Set goals:
It tends to be extra hard to stay motivated when it’s cold and dark outside, so setting specific goals for yourself can really help. I like to set goal races in the spring to keep me motivated. For example, if you usually run five miles in the morning, set a goal to run seven by the spring. That way, you’ll slowly increase your speed and distance a little bit over the winter months and have a goal to look forward to by the time the snow clears up.
8. Treat yourself: