Some winters we have to deal with bitter cold, freezing wind, ice covered trails and lots of snow! It’s these winters that can make us stronger – as long as we train appropriately.
Here are some suggestions for how to train outside safely and most effectively when the weather is working against us.
If you are bound and determined to run outside in freezing cold, wind-chilled and icy weather:
Wear your Yaktrax, Microspikes or another spike/gripping device over your shoes.
Take shorter steps and/or increase your cadence to improve your balance.
Run slower than you expected to run in nice weather.
Cover all of your skin – even your face! Using vaseline or another skin lubricant will protect your skin from the elements. In addition to a hat, you can also wear a balaclava or face mask to cover the rest of your face.
Use goggles. Seriously. In icy, windy conditions you can use downhill ski goggles or the largest goggles you have to cover your eyes and any exposed area around the eyes. For less intense wind days, wearing clear or light colored sunglasses will help protect your eyes.
Breathe through a neckie. This is very important in the cold, especially with a wind chill. Pull the neckie up over your nose and mouth and breathe normally through this. Once the mouth area gets wet with breath vapor, rotate the neckie to a dry spot and repeat throughout the run. By breathing through a layer of material, you help to warm the air before it enters your lungs, which will put less stress on your lungs and aid in delaying how quickly your body cools.
- For clothes you want to dress in layers. The layer closest to your skin should be fairly close fitting and for really cold days a performance wool is ideal. Wearing long tights or tights with brushed fleece on the inside is really nice for cold weather running. There are also options that include a wind breaking layer in the front of the legs or the front of your chest to minimize the cold wind cooling you down quickly. On top of that initial base layer, you can layer on a jacket to hold out the rain or snow and wind. When it’s extremely cold adding another layer onto your legs is a good idea as well. This top layer should be a little more loose fitting than the bottom layer and help to block the wind or precipitation. Fleece lined mittens will help to keep you comfortable for your whole run!
- Remember to do your dynamic warm-up before you start your run to increase muscle activity, range of motion and decrease the amount of time that you will feel cold or stiff starting your run. You can do this dynamic warm-up inside to help with the adjustment to the cold weather outside.
- If you find that you’ve overdressed during your run just take off that top layer of your jacket or outer shirt and tie it around your waist.
- After your run you will cool down quickly so if you have to drive to get back to home to hop in the shower, make sure to keep an additional layer or a change of shirt with you so that you can get into dry clothes quickly.
Remember that a wind chill of -20 degrees Fahrenheit can cause frostbite within 30 minutes – much less than many of our runs, so please be safe!
For tips on how to do strength / circuit training indoors, read here.