Cold Weather Running Tips

As I sit here and type this, the weather outside is barely above freezing with a chilly mixture of rain, sleet, and snow. This type of weather isn’t ideal for most, but for some hardcore runners who need those miles in, an indoor track or treadmill are enough to make your lips curl. It was just six months ago that we were complaining about the heat and humidity and here we are doing the same with the cold. Nevermind for the moment you fair weather runners with spring-like conditions year around or those south of the equator suffering from the heat (again, wishing for the cold and snow).

Shoelace Tying

This Running Couple are from Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. We get the entire spectrum of weather: heat, humidity, snow, ice, and even the occasional sub-zero wind chills. One week you might be outside sloshing through the snow and a week later running around in shorts. We put together some of the items related to running we cannot run without:

  • Great shoes – while those old pair of shoes might still feel great and would save your nice Hokas, Sauconys, etc. from getting all wet in the ice and snow, those older shoes might be a bit more slippery as your tread wears down. You also run the risk of water seeping into your shoes as they age, and that’s not good in freezing temperatures. Make sure they’re breathable and water-resistant.
  • Socks – Along with those great shoes, make sure you have a good pair of socks, and if doing longer distances, consider carrying an extra pair.
  • Anti-slip wearables – Products like Yaktrax are great for protecting you from unwanted slips or spills. Remember that YouTube video of the running couple falling after their news interview? Yeah, you want to avoid that.
  • Dress in synthetic layers – It’s obvious that layers are important when the temperature changes throughout the day; just look to the sides of any start area before a race during chilly weather. But layers are also important during your runs even if the temperature is constant. We recommend a breathable base layer, followed by a layer to help balance your body temperature, like a good technical shirt. And then a final layer to help protect against the elements like a good running jacket. Make sure you’re wearing gloves (I can’t tell you how many times I forgot and regretted it) and something to protect the top of your head, like a fleece cap.
  • Information – yes, information can save the day. Keep tuned into weather forecasts via your watch, phone, etc. It’s better to prep for the worst, and you’ll be certain not to freeze.

Never assume that you know it all when it comes to running in the cold. Let’s take the Boston Marathon as an example. We all know, with exceptions aside, that a majority of the runners are highly experienced, trained, and had to qualify to run Boston. It’s not the first rodeo for most. But in recent years, the high temps were around 50 degrees (around 11 Celsius) during the race. As runners were walking as they tired or were finishing, especially with dehydration, hundreds were stricken with hypothermia. It creeps up on you in a hurry.

Stay warm out there runners. Get those miles in. And thaw out with your favorite hot beverage. Be safe.

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