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10 Tips for Cold Weather Running

winter runningThe days are shorter and the temperatures are colder, but that doesn’t stop us from lacing up our running shoes and heading out into the snow. It may be chilly, yes, but that doesn’t mean we go into hibernation during the winter! Just keep thinking about the benefits of cold weather running. I live in Utah, and winters can get downright freezing during the off season. All I need to do is check the Utah news forecast, bundle up and be prepared for anything mother nature can throw at me!

Here’s my list of 10 ways to beat the cold weather to the punch when exercising outside:

  1. Know where you’re running. Having a route selected ahead of time will save you from being cold for longer than you planned. I always make a habit of checking my local Utah road conditions before I head out, so I know exactly what to expect. You can do the same, and with a little preparation, you’ll be sure to have a more enjoyable run!
  2. Wicking layers are your friends. Materials like polypropylene will draw the sweat away from you. This is a good thing, because that moisture will freeze and make you cold if it’s next to your body for any length of time. Don’t wear cotton, since it traps moisture and keeps you wet and cold. Gore-Tex or nylon works for your outer layer, since it breathes and shields you from precipitation and wind. You can also add a middle layer of fleece to stay extra warm.
  3. Hydration is key. Even though it’s cold, you still need to quench your thirst. The body heats up when it’s active, and you’ll run the risk of losing fluids through your sweat. Be sure to drink plenty of water before you head out, when you’re running, and of course after.
  4. Protect your extremities. Running gloves are great for wicking moisture away on milder days, and gloves are perfect for those extra-cold days. You know those instant heat packs? Stuff them into your gloves for added warmth. For your feet, choose a wicking sock or a liner to wear under your regular socks.
  5. Wear the right shades. Protect your eyes! If it’s a clear, sunny day, wearing sunglasses can prevent the sun from glaring off the snow. Choose a comfortable pair of polarized running glasses. You’ll be glad you did!
  6. Cover your noggin. Nearly 40 percent of body heat will escape from your head, so make sure you wear a wicking beanie to regulate your body’s heat better. A scarf or balaclava also works during those extra-cold days.
  7. Check with your doctor first. Even if you’re in tip-top shape, ask your doctor if you can handle running in freezing temperatures. Cold air may trigger asthma attacks or even chest pain, so take an extra few minutes and ask first.
  8. Don’t overdress. You remember Ralphie’s brother in “A Christmas Story,” when he fell over in the snow and could hardly move? You don’t want to look like that! Things will get nice and toasty once you start running, so a few sensible layers is really all you need.
  9. Carry a phone. Just in case you run into trouble, you’ll be glad you brought your cell phone along. If your top layer has a chest pocket, take your phone and place it in a plastic sandwich bag and put it in that pocket. That way, once you start sweating, your phone won’t get all wet from the sweat.
  10. Change out of your wet clothes promptly. If you’re outside and it start snowing or raining, or you’re extra wet from sweating, you run the risk of hypothermia. Bring along a backpack with an extra layer or two, and take shelter quickly.

Running in the winter gives you the chance to enjoy beautiful surroundings, quiet landscapes and a nice change of pace for your exercise routine. If you make the necessary preparations, you’ll be sure to have a more enjoyable time!

image by Health.com

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