Winter Running Tips
Not everyone lives in a place where the weather is ideal for running year-round. In fact, most people don't. Almost every runner has to deal with either heat and humidity, bitter cold, or both, at some point during the year. Those of us gearing up for spring races need to ensure that we still get our training in during the cold winter months. Listed below are 5 things to keep in mind when running in the cold.
1. No excuses
Just because it is cold and miserable doesn't mean you can skip out on your training. When you get to the starting line of your goal race, your body isn't going to give you a pass because the weather was nasty for a few weeks or months. You either trained, or you didn't. Even if you have to scale back the workout, it is better than skipping it. This is where your level of commitment is really put to the test.
2. Dress in layers
Make sure to put on several layers before heading out for a run. This is especially true if you will be running for 30 minutes or more. Chances are your body will warm up nicely and you'll want to shed a layer, unzip a jacket, or roll your sleeves up to avoid overheating. Overdressing can lead to excessive sweating and moisture buildup which can be uncomfortable and leave you feeling really cold and wet once you stop running.
3. Slow down in the snow
Many of us have specific paces that we want to hit during our runs. Traction is severely limited when running in the snow, however, and hitting those same goal paces will mean that we are actually expending much more energy than normal. These are good times to "run by feel" when doing intervals. If you don't you might end up stressing your body much more than intended.
4. Don't fear the treadmill
The treadmill, or the dreadmill as many call it, can be a lifesaver when the weather really is too bad to run outside. While not ideal, it still allows you to get your running in and keep your fitness up. We live in such a transient area that you can usually find very inexpensive used treadmills that people are selling when they have to move. See if you can find one, stick it in a basement if you have one, and it'll be there when you need it.
5. Run in the afternoon
Many of us become accustomed to running in the early morning either because of work schedules or the brutal summer weather in Virginia. Try changing things up in the winter if possible. Not only is it likely to be warmer in the afternoon, but running in sunlight can make it feel warmer than it actually is. Avoid the shade, stay warm, and get the added benefit of Vitamin D. Running in the afternoon also makes you more visible to cars, and lessens the likelihood of slipping on black ice.