Cold weather running … wind, rain, snow, and cold, cold, cold

For me, running in the later autumn and winter is more about appropriate gear than anything else. I have found that if I don’t dress appropriately for running in bad weather, I’ll probably only do it once or twice. There is just too much suffering involved in running while freezing cold, sopping wet, or when the wind is whipping right through you. That being said, not everyone can afford to invest in a whole new set of exercise clothes for every season. Here are a few tips that I follow to keep myself running until spring.

Tip #1 – Layers!

This way you are warm at the beginning of the run and by the end of the run you can peel off some of the layers. Layers also enable you to not go out and buy a whole new exercise wardrobe for every season.

Tip #2 – Good running sneakers.

If they are too worn in or have holes your feet are going to have a much higher chance of getting cold or even worse wet. This is the one place where it is important to spend just enough money that you have good running sneakers. If you are a regular runner you should not be running in the same shoes for more than six months. Especially if you use your running shoes for other things.

Tip #3 – Wear warm socks, gloves, a hat, and wind or rain gear.

I wear slightly thicker white socks, stretchy gloves, a fleece ski band or a ponytail hat, and a wind jacket. Thermal hats, neck gaiters, and ski masks also work wonders for keeping your head and neck warm. Keeping your head warm during outside winter exercise is very important, you can loose up to 40% of your body heat by leaving your head exposed. Wind breakers and wind pants help not only with the wind but can also protect you from rain.

Tip #4 – The warm up.

Personally before I head outside in the cold I usually stretch out in my living room. Then, I pump up the music for a full song or two and just dance in front of my front door. I do my best to get my heart rate up or at least get my blood moving before I go outside into the cold. This week I have been dancing around to the Rolling Stones “Shake your Hips” song off of their Exile to Main Street cd. What a challenge it is to shake your hips at beat for the whole song!

Tip #5 – No running when it is lightening out!

This one might sound silly … but getting hit by lightening is no laughing matter.

Tip #6 – Slow down!

That’s right. If there is snow or ice on the ground, if it is freezing cold and just rained, if the conditions are anything but warm and dry – slow down. This will prevent slips, falls, and the pain of almost slipping and falling. Also, falling when you are freezing cold is so much more painful!

Tip #7 – Run with a buddy.

This helps motivate you to go in the first place. A buddy gives you some company on your run. And, a buddy gives you someone to commiserate with about just how cold it is.

Tip #8 –  Run during the day.

If you can, run during the day.  It is often warmer outside during the day and you can enjoy the sunshine.

If you have tips for things you do to stay warm while exercising outside, please feel free to share!