Anyone else feel like the winter comes faster than the warm weather does? If you’re a runner, this can be discouraging. Outdoor runs are great when it’s sunny and warm. Even fall runs can be nice with some crisp air to keep you from overheating.
But winter runs can be intimidating. Though, they don’t have to be.
You don’t have to duck inside and stick to the treadmill during the winter months (though you can). I’ve pulled together some tips to make your outdoor winter runs more enjoyable. So get out there and move!
Pick Your Prize
It’s easy to motivate yourself to do something when there’s a prize you desire at the other end. You can reward yourself with a long hot shower, time in the hot tub (if you have one), a shopping trip, or a brunch date with friends. What will motivate you to get outside for your run? Do that.
Invite a Friend
Nearly everything in life is better when it’s shared (unless of course we’re talking about dessert). Invite a friend to meet you for an outdoor run date. You’ll be more likely to stick to your plan if you have someone to hold you accountable, and it will be more enjoyable to be out there with someone else.
It’s All in the Shoes
Wet feet in winter is no joke. Find shoes that have little to no mesh on them to help keep the slush out (and the warmth in). Socks are important too, find some that wick away wetness and will keep your feet warm. I like SmartWool socks for this.
Dress for Warmer Weather
This might sound counterintuitive, but hear me out. The last thing you want to do is break a heavy sweat and end up with a chill. A good rule of thumb is to dress like it’s 15 – 20 degrees warmer than it is outside. This way you’ll be cool when you start, but comfortable as you get going.
Layers are important too because they’ll give you flexibility (like opening your jacket). Make sure your base layer will wick away sweat so you stay dry. Some clothes will have vents in the underarms and the back that you can open up to give you some air flow where you need it.
Warm Up Before You Head Out
The best way to feel warm once you’re outside is to move around indoors before you head out. You don’t want to break a sweat, but get your blood flowing by running up the stairs, or doing some bodyweight movements. The cold won’t feel as shocking when you’re warm. If you’re running with a partner, don’t stand around chatting outside before you head out. Stay warm right up until when you start your run.
Move around inside enough to get the blood flowing without breaking a sweat. Run up and down your stairs, use a jump rope, or do a few yoga sun salutations. A speedy house-cleaning works, too, says D. A. Reng from Kentucky.
Mind the Wind
If you start out running into the wind, it will be at your back once you’re heading home and have already broken a sweat. You can break up your runs by changing direction – run into the wind for a few minutes and then change direction so it’s at your back.
Make sure you have some protective gear for your face and hands. The cold wind can really bite any exposed skin.
Don’t Go For Speed
Think of winter running as maintenance. It’s not about running for speed. Especially when streets are icy or your footing is unpredictable. Take it slow and enjoy being outdoors moving your body. If you want to work on speed in the winter, a treadmill can be helpful.
Take Your Gear off ASAP
Once you stop running your core body temperature will drop. Make it a priority to be warm and dry right after your run. Take off your running gear including wet socks and wet sports bra. Blow dry your hair if it’s wet, or put on a dry hat.
It’s also helpful to have something warm to eat or drink when you get home – like a cup of tea or a warm bowl of soup.
A Safety Tip – Light Up
Winter time means it’s dark out earlier in the day. Kudos to you if you’re outside getting a run in after dark. Remember to wear reflective clothing so you can be seen by vehicles on the road. This is especially important as snowbanks get higher, or if you’re running on the street instead of the sidewalk.
Winter running can be enjoyable if you have the right gear and take steps to keep yourself warm before and after. Remember to be safe and listen to your body. Enjoy your run!