Running in Colder Temperatures
Colder temperatures don’t have to mean an end to your outdoor run.
But they do warrant some changes in your routine to prepare – and protect – your body for a cardiovascular workout in colder weather.
#1 Loosen up
Before you take off, make sure you get in a good stretch—something you should do before a run in any kind of weather.
But stretching before running in cold weather allows your muscles to warm up and become more elastic, which ultimately reduces the likelihood of injury.
Therunnersguide.com suggests several stretches to gear the body up for a cold weather run:
- Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall and place one foot behind you and the other foot in front of you. Bend your front knee toward the wall and lean forward at the waist supporting yourself with your hands and front foot. Press the heel of your back foot toward the ground.
- Thigh stretch: Stand straight and touch your toes. Or sit down with your legs out in a “V” and stretch your arms to the ground.
- Hamstring stretch: Sit on the ground with one leg extended outward and toe facing up. Angle the other leg so that the sole of the opposite foot rests on the inside of the extended leg. Bend at the waist toward the toe of the extended foot until you feel a pull in the back of your leg.
- Quadriceps stretch: Stand near a wall. Place your inside hand on the wall. Pick up your outside foot, bend at the knee, and grab your ankle with your opposite hand.
- Hip and back stretch: Sit down and cross your legs. Cross your left leg over the right one, which should stay bent. Bring your left leg into your chest like you are hugging it and twist your body over your left shoulder.
#2 Dress for success
Layers, layers, and more layers.
Dressing in layers ensures you’re warm enough but also gives you the flexibility to adjust – by removing a layer – if your body adapts to the colder temperatures and you find yourself sweating.
It's suggested that you dress in three layers during winter runs:
- Innermost layer: Polyester or another fabric that keeps moisture away from your skin
- Middle layer: Wool or fleece to keep you warm
- Outermost layer: Jacket that is Gore-Tex or nylon—both of which protect the body against wind and water.
And don’t forget to wear a hat, gloves, and winter socks (the kind that repel moisture) to protect your head, hands, and feet from frostbite and hypothermia.