When the weather gets cold, you don’t have to stop running, but you do need to make some adjustments to how you’re running to protect your skin, muscles, and lungs from the weather. Whether you are planning to run a race or just do a few laps each morning around the neighborhood, these tips can help you to do so safely.
#1: Warm Up Inside
Don’t head outdoors to start your running regimen until you’ve warmed up. Spend 10 to 15 minutes doing dynamic movements to help stretch your muscles to prepare for your run.. This may include squats, leg swings, lunges, and burpees.
This helps loosen up your joints and muscles to minimize risk and works to boost your body’s temperature. When you head outdoors, it won’t be a significant shock to your body. You also will notice your muscles are ready to go, not tighten up as you try to run.
With your heart rate elevated after a warm up, head outside to run. Avoid having too much time between your warm up and the actual run.
#2: Dress for the Weather
What you wear during winter runs is critical. First, dress for the weather. That often means layering on synthetic fabrics that will keep your body covered and warm while working to wick away sweat so you don’t get too cold from it. Be sure the clothing you choose fits on your body to add to the warmth it offers.
Next, choose to add a wind-resistant layer on top. If it’s raining or snowing, make sure it’s waterproof. This helps to minimize the impact of the cold air on your muscles. Keep your head, face, and hands covered, too.
Choose clothing that’s easy to adjust during your run. Your jacket, for example, could be a zip up that you can open if you get too warm. Make sure you have pockets to store your hat or gloves if you get too hot wearing them. If you’re planning to run in a long race, bring extra socks with you just in case the first pair gets wet. In many cases, socks can make a huge difference in your ability to continue on.
Finally, upgrade your shows. The right shoes will help minimize the risk of a fall and the injuries that come with it. Specifically, look for shoes with ample traction on them that will grip the snow and ice to keep you in the right position. Your typical summer running shoes may not have enough grip to minimize risks here.
#3: Stay Hydrated
Hydrate even more significantly than you do traditionally for a warm-weather run. You may not think that’s necessary, but the cold weather will make you think you’re not as thirsty as you are. You also will not sweat as much as you normally do, so be sure to bring water with you and keep drinking throughout the run.
The better you hydrate before you head out, the more likely you are to do well. However, after the run, give yourself time to cool down, and during that period, continue to drink.
#4: Know the Symptoms of Frostbite and Other Injuries That Might Occur in the Cold
There are concerns with the weather – it’s not just being cold. It’s best to be able to recognize what’s happening so you can adjust to it properly.
Frostbite can occur to the outer layers of the skin as a lack of blood circulation in that area occurs. It is most likely to occur in the toes, ears, fingers, and nose but can happen to any exposed skin. Symptoms include:
- Areas of the body turning numb
- Skin that turns white or has a blue tint to it
- Tingling or discomfort in any area
If you notice any other symptoms, such as pain on your skin, difficulty communicating, or feeling dizzy, it’s time to get inside and perhaps even get some medical care.
#5: Establish a Routine
When it comes to running during the winter, consistency can help you to tolerate the experience better. Those first few runs will be tough, but you’ll soon start to enjoy it. A routine can help you:
- Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes inside.
- Go for a shorter run initially and then extend it over time.
- Consider a cooldown of another 10 to 15 minutes outdoors before coming inside.
Work up the length of your run over time. You may feel that the first run is challenging, but over time your body will adjust and you’ll feel comfortable on a longer run. Don’t overextend yourself on that first run when you’re not too sure what to expect.
Once you’re ready to end your run, slow down, but don’t necessarily stop suddenly. You can do a cool down, like the warm up, after your run, but do so indoors. During your run, your heart rate will be up, and you’ll want to maximize that until the end of your route. Head indoors to warm up after this.
With consistency, you’ll be able to continue running throughout the winter instead of finding yourself having to start over in the spring. That can also create confidence to ensure every run outdoors is an enjoyable, positive experience.
Reach Out When You Need Help
If you’re facing limited movement or developing a strain in your knee due to your running, Our team of highly specialized and trusted professionals can help pinpoint what’s occurring and help create a plan for improving your mobility. These tips for running in the cold are just the start of the ways our highly skilled, therapist-led organization can help you. We’ll go the extra mile so you can, too.