Though running in cold weather is a bit more of a challenge than running in warm weather, it can still be a delightful and safe experience. Running in cold weather is different than warm weather and if you are not careful, you could fall prey to running injuries, so take the following precautions to reduce your chances.
Cold Weather Running Gear and Clothing
The number one rule for clothing for cold weather runs is to wear layers. If you just have one layer you may end up too cold and will have no way to adjust. If you dress up in layers you can remove a layer if needed to allow your body to adjust to the cold and your body’s temperature.
The general consensus is that you should wear three layers of clothes to reduce heat loss. A great idea for the innermost layer is a fabric that is made up of polyester because it has the tendency to keep moisture away from your skin. It is important to wear lightweight clothing that is breathable to help regulate your body heat. The second layer could be a fabric made of wool or fleece to keep you warm, but can be easily removed if you become hot. The third, or outermost layer can be a jacket that is Gore-Tex or nylon, which are wonderful at keeping the wind and water out. Your goal is to prevent heat loss and reduce excess sweat.
Along with layers on your body, you also need to protect your head, hands, and feet to keep heat loss at a minimum. Wear a hat and mittens or gloves, as well as moisture-repelling socks. You want to avoid frostbite and hypothermia. You should learn to recognize the symptoms of these, such as the loss of feeling or numbing of hands, feet, and your face for frostbite. Hypothermia involves a change in your mental condition, such confusion, troubled speech, or a lot of shivering. There are plenty of sporting stores that offer excellent running gear to offer you protection from the cold.
Even though it is cold out and you may not become as thirsty as you would in the hot weather, it is important that you drink plenty of fluids, as your body will still be sweating and losing fluids. Be sure that you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run to avoid becoming dehydrated. If you are going for a long run you can place water bottles or Gatorade in designated spots to hydrate yourself along the way.
Stretching before your run is a must to help reduce chances of injury or strain. Take about 10 solid minutes to stretch your upper and lower body, including your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and buttocks. It is also a good idea to stretch afterwards to reduce the feeling of soreness the following day.
Be sure to wear a pair of running shoes that have good arch support and are known for their optimal running performance. If your shoes are old or they are not very comfortable for you, it is suggested that you purchase new ones.
If there is snow or ice on the ground, take extra precaution. Try to run on paths that are clear of ice and snow and always be watching where you are going. It is not a good idea to run on ice at all, so if it is icy it is suggested to wait until the ice clears.
Taking precautions before running in cold weather is certainly worth it. You want to be able to enjoy running and train for your best performances without worries of injuries. Enjoy!