Cold-Weather Running Tips

Hi everyone! It’s officially two weeks until Christmas Eve. Typing that just sent me into a sheer panic. I’ve got to get going on my shopping!

As does every December, this month is already flying by. This week alone is packed with a holiday party, a Santa Shuffle and an annual cookie baking date with one of my friends (stay tuned for more recipes!). I’m trying my absolute hardest to stay on schedule with workouts and maintain control of my diet, but sometimes sitting on the couch eating gingerbread cookies is just more appealing than a work out. It’s this time of year that’s the hardest for me to stay motivated, but I refuse to start the new year feeling bloated and disappointed in myself.

One way I keep myself on track throughout the holidays, and the long, dreary winter ahead, is of course running. Outside. In the cold. And snow. No matter what. I started doing this a few years ago when my marathon training started in early January and found that winter was the first in which I didn’t go through a seasonal depression of sorts. So although there are exceptions, I really do make an effort to continue outdoor runs through the winter. A dedicated running buddy helps too.

My shoes decked with jingle bells after the Reindeer Run in Lakewood this past Saturday
My shoes decked with jingle bells after the Reindeer Run in Lakewood this past Saturday

But running outside in January is very different than a July run. Both are challenging, but I find cold-weather runs require the most planning and thought. Here are a few tips I’ve learned in the past few years for a successful winter run. If you’ve never done it, I dare you to try it once. I bet you’ll be glad you did.

Bundle up, but not too much.
When it’s very cold outside (under 35 degrees), I make sure I wear an Under Armour long-sleeved shirt and leggings, gloves, earmuffs, long socks (potentially two layers) and an over jacket that can zip up to my chin. But that’s really it. I’ve made the mistake of scarves, hats and additional layers of clothing, and I quickly learned that just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you won’t overheat. It’s always good to more prepared than less, but be ready to take a layer off and leave it behind.

Don’t get wet.
Getting wet is the kiss of death for me when I run. One step in a deep puddle or splash from a car, and I can end up blistered and chaffed by the end. The type of weather that keeps me inside on a treadmill is when the snow starts melting and there is standing water in the streets, not when it’s too cold or snowy. Avoid puddles at all costs. However, just in case you get your feet wet, I recommend putting Vaseline on your feet and in between your toes before a run. Sounds weird, but trust me, it avoids friction!

Stay hydrated.
Even though you may not immediately get the extreme thirst that comes from a hot and humid summer run, know you still need to stay hydrated and properly fuel your body throughout your run. Be sure you have water close by, and in the event of an emergency, eat some snow! I’ve done it, and it’s never hurt me. Just a tip: Avoid any yellow patches.

Warm up.
When you’re done with your run, be sure to warm up, but not by hopping into a hot shower—that can send your body into shock. I usually change out of my running clothes and put dry ones on while sipping something hot (Usually coffee. Is there any other hot beverage that’s worth drinking? But that’s another post for another time…). Then, within the hour, I’ll take a warm shower. Just avoid the temptation to crank up the temperature.

So this winter, join me in avoiding the blues or feeling like a blimp after the holidays with some outside runs. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean the sun isn’t out—take advantage and get some vitamin D. And then come home and eat a Christmas cookie.

How do you avoid the winter blues?

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