Running Through The Cold

Although January is behind us, February and March can still be cold, dark and snowy months, especially for those living in the Northeast. Fret not! Spring is right around the corner (even the groundhog said so). That doesn’t mean you have to wait to start running outside!

Getting started with winter running is much like starting to run in general. Here are some tips to get you going:

Start slowly: Your first few winter runs will be slower than what you’re used to and that’s ok! Your body has to adjust to the colder weather. Don’t plan on setting a personal best! This time of year is a great time to work on your aerobic capacity runs and build stamina for the spring.

Focus on Form: As stated above, since this is not the time to be setting PRs, why not work on aerobic capacity and form! Keep your shoulders relaxed and let your arms swing forward, not sideways. Keep your chest upright, not hunched over. Your lungs may feel tight if it’s extra cold out, so slow your pace, return to a walk or take shorter strides if your breathing becomes strained.

Check the weather before you go: Seems obvious, but make sure that you are choosing the appropriate day (no blizzards in the forecast) and time of day to run. Sidewalks and roads tend to freeze at night – if possible, allow for time for the sun to melt frozen areas.

Choose the time of day wisely: If you’re used to running at 6 am in the summer months, remember that it’ll probably be dark at that time of day in the winter. Wear a headlamp or move your run back an hour or two, if possible. The same goes for the evening: It gets dark earlier, so if you’re running after work, plan on wearing reflective gear or a headlamp for safety.

Dress “Appropriately”

  • When running in the cold, it is recommended to dress for temperatures 20-30 degrees warmer than it is. Don’t forget to factor in windchill!
  • Layers are crucial so you can adjust throughout your run. Start with a base layer (top and pants) that will wick away moisture and help you stay dry. Avoid cotton!
  • A running jacket will cut the wind and keep you dry. Most likely, you can keep using the same shoes you run in the rest of the year. If you are running on snow or ice, you may want to consider winter traction devices to add to the bottom of your shoes
  • Opt for the thicker, higher socks when running in winter months. Wool or polyester socks are better than cotton!

Hydration Station: Remember that due to the cold, your body might not be registering thirst. Ensure that you keep drinking water, even if you don’t feel thirsty! It is recommended that you drink half of your body weight in ounces, daily! If you love running, you don’t have to stop because it’s dark and cold. And if you want to START running, you don’t have to wait until May! Remember, if you’ve signed up for a running race, it may not be canceled due to inclement weather. Running through all seasons can help you prepare! Also, fewer people tend to run in the winter, so the running paths and trails you love mid-summer might be entirely yours. Reach out to one of our physical therapists today to discuss ways that can help you remain active!