Just the idea of running in the winter makes you shiver. After all, who wants to step out in low temps for a bit of cardio? Can’t you exercise without making it an outdoor activity? Of course, but for those of us who don’t want to abandon our running shoes, you’ll be happy to hear that you can make winter running more enjoyable and easier, too.
Always do a warm up
Even in warm weather, it’s important to warm up before you exercise. But in the winter, it’s not an option. When it’s cold, it takes longer for muscles to warm up. So, if you go running straight off the bat, you can actually increase the risk of getting injured.
What are some good pre-run warmups? Jumping jacks, running in place, jump rope, and even burpees.
Adjust your expectations
In warmer months, your body works hard to cool you down, moving blood from your core to your skin’s surface. But when you run in cold weather, that’s what cools you down and allows your core temperature to remain warm. This also helps your blood supply to go straight to your heart and muscles.
So, on the one hand, running in the winter is often easier on the body. But studies also show that exercising in extreme cold can definitely affect physical performance. You may not be able to run as far or as fast, and that’s perfectly alright. Just adjust your expectations and go easy on yourself.
Wear the right clothing
Always start with a skintight layer so your legs, arms and chest are completely covered. Then, for below 30°F, layer up with a long-sleeved tech shirt and a water- and wind-proof jacket. Be sure to cover up all areas of the body where heat can escape.
Finally, treat yourself to a good pair of weatherproof shoes. They help keep your feet warm and dry so you can hit the trails even during the cold, dark and grey months.