Don’t let a little snow keep you from enjoying an outdoor run. Running in cold weather can enhance your endurance and keep your mentally sharp. Additionally, running in the cold can help you burn more calories than running in warm weather, since your body has to use additional energy to generate heat.
While working out in cold weather has advantages, there are also certain things to be mindful of, such as slipping on the ice and frostbite (if you live in below freezing temperatures). Remember to have fun, but stay alert.
Massage Muscles to Prevent Injury: The need to warm up your muscles becomes even more critical in cold weather. If you find that it takes your body a while to adjust to the colder temperatures outside, use a hand-held massage tool before you hit the road to aid this process.
Do an indoor warm-up: Use some basic moves before heading out to build internal body heat and loosen your muscles and joints. Start by stretching your legs, arms, hamstrings, etc., and then do a few reps of squats, push-ups, sit-ups and lunges. These bodyweight exercises will warm up your body so the frigid winter air isn’t as much of a shock when you head out your door.
Layer strategically: Dressing for a cold-weather run is all about layers. There are three important layers to keep you warm: an inside layer that should be moisture wicking and lay tight against your body; a middle layer that should be insulating; and an outer layer that should be made of a weather-guard material.
Keep your hands and feet covered: Our hands and feet are the places where we naturally lose the most warmth, so they’re the most important things to keep covered on outdoor runs. Thick, high-quality wool socks wick away moisture as opposed to cotton socks, which hold in moisture and make your feet cold and clammy. Select proper shoes with the least amount of mesh to keep out slush. You can also grab hand and toe warmers and insert them in your gloves and socks to stay extra warm.
Dress 15-20 degrees warmer than it actually is: While you want to be prepared for the elements, you do want to dress as if it’s 15-20 degrees warmer outside than it actually is. You need to dress to compensate for how your body will warm up as you run.
Get better traction: Running in icy conditions can be risky because you don’t want to slip on the ice and injure yourself. The best way to avoid injury and get the most out of your winter runs is to add a traction device (also called ice cleats) onto your shoes. For better stability in the snow, you can also buy screw kits at running stores; the screws themselves go into your shoes to help improve traction in ultra-slippery conditions. But be warned, shoes with air or gel can be damaged when you put the screws in, so be sure to ask a professional at the running store to help.
Wear reflective gear: Less daylight in the winter means less visibility, especially in the morning or late afternoon/evening. To make matters worse, most running clothes are dark-colored, meaning you need to make yourself more visible. Let’s be honest…everyone cannot drive in cold weather (be it snow, ice, or rain), meaning that you have to make eye contact with the drivers so they acknowledge your existence in order to avoid getting hit. Wear bright colors to be seen or add some reflective gear or reflective tape to your outfit.
Put Vaseline on exposed skin: Surviving a winter run is all about staying safe and warm—and avoiding frostbite in the process. In extremely cold temperatures, rub vaseline on your nose, ears and cheekbones. These areas are high spots on your face and can suffer frostbite more quickly; the Vaseline forms a natural barrier between you and the cold.
Run with the wind at your back: A substantial wind chill can turn a semi-cold day into a bone-chilling one. Try your best not to run into the wind, and if you have to, do it on the first half of your run. That way, the home stretch of your workout—when you’re more tired and sweaty—won’t be coupled with intense winds.