It’s that time of year again, when the gloomy skies and unfriendly cold air make your workouts a freezing nightmare. If you are anything like me, you do not like paying for expensive gym membership fees when you can utilize so many different outlets of fitness that Mother Nature has to offer. I am a former professional tennis player by trade, but developed a love for running marathons a few years ago. I am currently training for the 2016 Boston Marathon, and because of the duration of my runs I wouldn’t dare go inside on a treadmill, no matter the elements.
Prepare With Your Footwear
If you are reading this, chances are you know a thing or two about running shoes. To break it down for those of you who don’t, invest in a good pair of running shoes early on and your whole body will thank you! When thinking about running in sub freezing temperatures, it is always a smart idea to get crampons. These nifty devices clamp onto the bottom of your shoes to create traction for running on ice and snow. There is nothing worse than taking a tumble on the ice, injuring yourself and cutting your run short.
Know Your Running Style
Runners can be weird about who they run with, and for how long. Determine right away if you are a social runner, or if you like to endure the elements alone. If you enjoy company, the toughest conditions are the perfect times to grab a partner. They keep you accountable, and they can be your voice of reason for making the decision to get out there when no one else wants to. If you enjoy battling the elements alone like I do, make no excuses when the weather is bad. I like to take my dog, and my music to keep my motivation going in the worst of circumstances. The truth is, the hardest part of your run will be getting yourself out the door.
A good long warm up is essential to prevent injuries in the stiff conditions you are about to face. Start off at a pace 30 seconds slower than you would normally run for about 5 minutes. Getting your knees, ankles, calves, quads, and hamstrings firing correctly will do your body a favor. Chances are, there are not many people out in the conditions you are so don’t worry about “looking too slow.”
Dress For Success
The worst situation for a runner is getting into a pair of tights that chafe your skin, or an insulated long sleeve that doesn’t keep you warm. In the minds of the dedicated, there is no such thing as bad weather but there is such a thing as bad gear choices. This is vital for overcoming the weather, and feeling as comfortable as possible. For sub zero temperatures it is important to invest in an insulated fleece jacket, long sleeve shirt, neck warmer, face cover, gloves, fleece-lined leggings, wool socks, and a winter hat of some sort. Stay away from cotton, because when wet it becomes heavy and impossible to dry again. You will want to seek out thin, wicking layers for your clothing if possible
When it is pouring rain outside or snowing so hard you can’t see in front of your face, the last thing you want to do is drink water. This is important for cold weather runners, because they are burning a higher amount of calories running and trying to stay warm. With the fluids that are being lost as a result of running in the cold weather, nutrients are being lost. Cramping, and dehydration are possible scenarios that could happen if you find yourself out on a long run with no hydrating options. Do yourself a favor, and bring a small amount of water with electrolytes in it next time you run.
Sadly, winter running means potentially having to run in the dark, due to the days being shorter. Even if you are not running in the dark, the days just seem darker in general. Grab a colorful jacket, reflective gear, or a headlamp that is bright and stands out to protect yourself from any accidents. Being safe is always your first priority when battling the elements, as avoiding to do so can result in potentially life threatening scenarios.
Whether you are living in a place with bad weather all winter, or going on vacation to an area colder than what you are used to, these tips will help you confidently get your workout in no matter what the weather is doing!