Many people enjoy running outside, but once cold weather strikes it’s back to the treadmill indoors. That doesn’t have to be the case! As long as you’re prepared with the proper gear and mindset, running outside in the winter can be a very enjoyable experience, not to mention a good workout. Here’s what you need to know about running in the winter:
1. Get a hat.
Or a headband that covers your ears. Cold weather can make your ears cold on the outside and downright painful in the inner ear, which can make for a very unpleasant run. This is especially true when wind moves past your ears, which is unavoidable when you’re running. And while the saying about 70% of your heat escaping through your head is untrue, hats still go a long way in keeping warm in the cold.
2. Wear the appropriate clothing.
Runner’s World suggests dressing for as if it is 20 degrees warmer than it actually is. Check out their website for a cheat sheet on layering for the cold. It starts at 30 degrees and has suggestions all the way down to -20. Basically, you want to be able to stay warm without sweating too much. Otherwise, your sweat could actually make you chillier.
3. Warm up first.
The cold makes brittle old men out of even the youngest and most agile of us. Make sure you’re warmed up and ready to get moving before you actually go outside. This will help your muscles and joints deal better with the cold air.
4. Protect your skin.
It’s always recommended that you wear some kind of SPF on your face and, if exposed, your arms and shoulders while running. Many people forego this step in the winter, citing overcast conditions or low temperatures. But damaging rays still beat down on the sidewalks and roads, so keep wearing sunscreen on your wintertime runs. You might also want to add facial lotion and lip balm to your routine, as cold air can really dry out your skin, which can lead to a seriously painful split lip. Petroleum jelly is also a good alternative to facial lotions, especially if you only need to target a small part of your face.
5. Stay hydrated.
Just because you’re not dripping in sweat, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink water. Dry winter air can take the moisture out of your body, which can leave you just as dehydrated even if you don’t feel like you are.
6. Keep at it.
Running in the winter can be challenging, but if you keep at it your body will adjust and it will become easier. That awful burning feeling in your lungs can feel awful, but our bodies are good at getting used to things like that (and if you’re worried about how healthy that is, fear not: it’s fine). If you’re really struggling with running in the cold, play around with different warmup techniques and layers of clothing. Happy running!