Friday, December 13, 2013

Winter Running Tips

I've noticed a lot on social media and even on blogs that a lot of runners are curious about the best ways to get through winter running.  Here in Utah, we've been having highs around 23, and lows in some area's -17 and with a lot of the rest of the country about the same, this is a perfect time to talk cold!



I love running in the winter!  Sure living in Utah, it's not always a daily possibility.  But when it is, there is nothing better than going out for a winter run in dusk or dark, with the snow falling down around you and the only sounds being your feet crunching the snow.   Okay, so that might not sound ideal to you all, but it really is a great moment when all those big flakes are coming down on you as you run in the peaceful quiet surroundings that only the cold winter air can provide!  (Good memories, that I am missing this year!!!)

I have a few tips that may help some of you, and possibly a few you may not have heard of.  They may not be ideal for everyone.  I know a lot of runners who go straight for the indoor tracks and treadmills and don't come back out until the sun has the tulips sprouting up out of the ground.  But for those of you who love the freedom of the outdoors, here are a few suggestions.

1.  (When possible) Check the weather, and pick the best time of that particular day to go outside.

2.  Dress in layers!  More layers the better!  You can always take something off and tie it around your waist as you get warmed up.  Invest in good winter running gear!  Like all things, a little extra money is well worth it when comfort is concerned!

3.  Wear mittens.  I know you're thinking, who still wears mittens?  Well those light gloves that separate your fingers, do just that they separate and when they are not together you loose heat from them.  I have found that mittens are the best, my fingers stay together and the heat stays in them much better than when I am in gloves.

4.  Wear a bandanna, scarf or something to cover your nose and mouth.  I prefer a bandanna because its easier to tie and keep in place.  I can easily pull it up over my nose when needed and when I get to warm I can easily drop it back down to just cover my mouth, or when needed off completely.  The thing about winter running is, you can be warm one minute and cold the next, so it's best to have something that can go up and down easily and not drive you nuts by having to find ways to keep it in place.

5.  Be careful on the ice!  Easiest way to twist an ankle and tear a tendon is to slip on ice!  You might find it better to run on snow rather than a shoveled sidewalk or road that has black ice.  A couple inches of snow is usually the best surface, in my opinion.  If possible, add slip grabbers to your shoes.  They won't prevent all slips, but its better than just the rubber of your shoes.

6.  Wear a hat, and cover your ears!  Lots of heat escapes from your head and there is nothing worse than getting cold frost bit ears early on in your run so all your mind is thinking about is how cold your ears are!  

7.  If it's cold and windy, take a windbreaker jacket with you to put on over your other layers.  We all know nothing cuts through you faster and worse than running through freezing air!

8.  Slow down, winter is not necessarily the time to be working on speed work.  Slow down, enjoy your runs and reduce the risk of injury from the cold!  Think of winter months as a time to maintain your fitness.

9.  If you have an injury in your legs, slap one of those heat packs on it.  When I do this I don't stick them directly to my skin.  (Did that once, and I lost all the skin when I had to peel it off...)  What I have found works best is wear some spandex or snug fitting item and stick the heat patch directly onto it.  Then put your regular running pants on over it.  This will help keep that area or muscle heated up and reduces further risk of pulling it worse in the cold.  I have found this works great with bursitis, hamstring and other like injuries!

10.  Wear moisture wicking socks.  In case you get running through too much slush, a great pair of socks will help save your feet a little from the elements.  Some who deal with cold rains have even found running with good socks and then plastic baggies over them help (I haven't tried this, just know a few who have.)  But I don't know about you, but I would try to keep that for shorter 1-6 mile runs instead of longer runs!

11.  Don't run in white or light colors.  This is winter, people are already blinded by the bright sun on the snow so you don't want to blend in.  This is the time to break out your darker running apparel!  On a side note, those darker running clothes will also help draw in the heat a tad better too!

12.  For running in the wind, use Vaseline or body glide on your nose and cheeks and even forehead to avoid the frostbit.  Keep lots of chapstick on your lips as well!  When the temps never get above the teens or low 20's, and a wind or breeze kicks up, its just cold.  This will save you a lot of red frozen spots, and as a bonus helps keep your skin from drying out.

13.  When your done with your run, change quickly and don't hang around outside for too long after.  Once you stop running that sweat will quickly make you cold.  I even have found its best to get home and change quick before I do my post run stretching!

14.  For those training for marathons in the winter.  Plan a warm trip to do your long run.  For instance, living in Utah generally if I was to drive 4 hours south to the southern end of our state is is a good 10-20 degree's warmer.  5 hours puts me almost to Vegas where its 20+ degree's warmer.  One night away for a long run to avoid frigid temps is a great idea and who doesn't love a little getaway!

15.  When in doubt, call it an indoor run (or cross train) day.  When the temps dip to 5-10 degree's or lower and you add a windchill to it, it can just be nasty!  Additionally the air quality can get pretty bad on days like this, so when in doubt just stay inside!

16.  Try something new.  I love snowshoeing in the mountains in the winter and let me tell you there is nothing that will kick your butt more than going for a run in snowshoes!!!  You can actually strap them on over your own running shoes.  If you don't own a pair, you can rent them for around $5-$8 a day from sporting goods stores.

When is it too cold to run outdoors?
Well that is a personal question!  People that live in the south might think anything colder than 35 is freezing.  Those of us further north might not get discouraged until the temps dip into the single digits.  Heck I met a guy from Saskatchewan who once told me he'll run outdoors even when it's -40 degree's below... (Personally, I am not sure if I believe him, but they do have outdoor races there in the winter in those temps (I checked, LOL), so maybe it's true:)
For me, I think anything 28-35 is absolutely perfect winter running weather temps!  I love to dress up in my cute winter running gear:)



I could probably go on, but those are my wide range of winter running and best practices tips I have found that help keep me running outdoors throughout the winter months.
Happy running my friends!

Do you have any additional tips you like to add?  When is too cold for you to go out for a run?

Also, if you haven't already CLICK HERE to come and see the Health and Fitness Giveaway blog hop.  There are 23 blogs who linked up together in one large blog hop, to offer 23+ different giveaways all health and fitness related! 






22 comments :

  1. Great tips! My problem has been ice. It's been on the ground over a week now and there is more freezing rain coming today. I just cannot chance it! I hope it melts, I don't mind bundling up to run but don't want to get injured when training...so off to the dreadmill I go this morning! Better than nothing, so I'm not complain'!

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    1. Ice is a killer! Stay safe, you have that amazing race coming up very soon! Hope the dreadmill run was good!

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  2. I live in UT too! I've been wanting to run in the snow for awhile, but I was worried about my mouth and nose...the bandana is genius! I have to early in the mornings, so I'll layer up for sure. Thanks for the great tips!

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    1. Ya, the bandana is the best way to go! Hope you have some great morning runs!!!

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  3. Oh my. Well, since I was born and raised in Arizona and am still here anything under 40 is freezing to me! I love your tip about the mittens though..I never thought about that.. Even though our "cold" weather may seem warm to others, there are times where I need to wear gloves and it seems like that's not enough..I need to get myself a pair of mittens! I've never even owned a pair..:)

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    1. A funny short story, I went to Arizona in January for a marathon a few years back, and I was so excited to be warm:) Rented a convertible and everything... Oh of course you guys had one of your coldest storms come through at that time. It never got above 32 degree's during the race, I had to hit up a Salvation Army store to grab some warm gear to run in. Well all they had were these pair of pink mittens... Well they were fabulous in the race, and I kept them and those are the same pair I use still, love them so much more than gloves for keeping the fingers warm!

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    2. I remember that! That week it had also snowed a teeny tiny amount. I was soo excited haha I hope it happens again!! :) But yeah, I do feel bad for people coming to visit when we have storms like that. You can tell because the locals are in awe and think its awesome and some of the visitors are pretty dang mad haha.

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    3. I can see how that is! yeah, everyone kept telling me, oh this never happens... But it was the beginning of me realizing that if I travel somewhere, I am going to be bringing crazy weather with me:) But I hope you do get a bit of snow soon too, so you can get excited again and enjoy it!!!

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  4. Great tips thanks..coming back to read more in detail!

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  5. Nice tips! I agree w/you on the temperature front. Anything under 20 starts to get really unpleasant.

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  6. Great tips! I enjoying running in the snow.... not so much the ice :)

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    1. Thanks! I agree with ya, dislike ice, love snow!

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  7. This is so so so helpful! My winter running season has just begun and I'm definitely having some issues adjusting to it. Adding mittens to my Christmas list!

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    1. Glad you think so! I promise you, you'll love the mittens more than gloves:)

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  8. Great tips! I've yet to find gloves that keep my hands warm so I would add hand warmers. They're amazing! I don't necessarily like the cold but living in OH I had to either get over it, not run or only run on the dreadmill during the winter. I got over it! I have to be careful with exercise induced asthma and the cold so I avoid running outside in the mid to low teens. I've had my water bottles freeze during training runs. Ugh!

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    1. Water bottles freezing on a run, now that cold!!! I've used hand warmers too, they are especially great if your standing around at a starting line waiting for a race to start:)

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  9. Excellent tips. I ran this morning in 8 degree weather and I couldn't move my face because of the wind. I REALLY hope I get the face cover I asked Santa for, otherwise it's my first purchase post xmas!

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    1. Wow 8 degree's is cold! I really do hope you get your face cover from Santa:)

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