Brrrrr! Winter is here. The temperatures are low and the snow has made it’s debut. For most people (including me until a few years ago) that meant putting away the running shoes till the spring months. I used to assume no one ran in the winter. Or should I say, I assumed I couldn’t run in the winter. Last year in an attempt to convince Kev we needed to go to Hawaii on vacation, I told him we could run the Honolulu marathon together while we were there. It worked and we registered for the race. It was nearing the end of the fall so that meant lots and lots of training in freezing weather. I pictured it being brutal and yes, some of it was but all in all I sort of fell in love with running in the Winter. Something about it just refreshes my soul like no other run in the summer has ever done. The cold air in your lungs and the quiet silence the winter brings is so dang peaceful. I can’t get enough. It does take some effort and a bit of planning, but here are some tips that have helped me along the way…
When you are use to running in warmer weather it can be quite an adjustment being covered up so much. Remember to wear light layers to stay warm. It’s a fine balance between wearing too much and wearing not enough. You have to find the sweet spot in the middle. Wearing too much can make you sweat more than you’d like, which in the end will just leave you extra cold and damp. Wearing not enough obviously just doesn’t keep you warm enough either. I usually wear one base layer, a light running jacket to break the wind and lined running leggings. The rule of thumb is to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer than it really is outside.
2. Appropriate gear
This is so huge! It will make or break your winter running. It can be a bit of an invest up front but the items will last you forever. You could definitely make do with whatever you have and over time add a piece here and there too.
Jacket: I wear a similar jacket to this. It cuts the wind and adds the warmth. It’s super important to get moisture wicking fabric on all your gear. It will totally help keep your body temperature warm! Love this Nike jacket!
Leggings: I’ve tried a lot of winter running leggings. They are usually lined with a light fleece type material. I never really found a pair I liked all that much. They always felt stiff and heavy. I just got this pair at Target a little while ago and OMGOSH! They are by far the most comfy pair of leggings ever. I totally wear them around the house even when I am not running. They are so soft, light weight, stay in place and super warm! These ones look pretty great as well!
Shoes: If i’ve been running a lot of miles, I try to time out my new shoes for end of fall and end of spring. That way when fall ends I can get a trail running shoe for the winter. They are usually more durable, waterproof and a bit thicker of a shoe. Which makes it perfect for winter running with snow, ice and cold temperature. These are my top trail picks Saucony, Merrell, Helly Hansen.
3. Pay attention to temperatures and wind chill
I will admit my “I really hate every minute of this” point is around 23 degrees or less. If the sun is out and there is no wind then I am still good at that temp, but oh man! That wind chill is deadly. Be aware of what it “actually” feels like outside and not just what the thermometer is saying. It makes a big, big difference.
4. Get warm first
Before you head outside to run, do some light stretching and warm up in the house. Try not to get sweaty yet but enough to feel warm and loose. It will make heading out in the cold not so bad.
5. Train your body
Running in the Winter isn’t something that just naturally feels good. I feel like you have to train your body. Every year when the falls ends and the winter begins, I have to go through a few weeks of transition as my body adjusts to the cold weather. It takes practice. Your lungs burn a bit at first, your legs can feel weak. It just takes time to figure it all out. Stick with it!
6. Forget about PR’s
Winter running isn’t for running super fast training runs. At least not for me. It will be hard to hit your fastest time. Just soak up the beauty, the silence, the fact that you are actually out of the house and just run!
I totally forget to drink water when I run in the winter. It’s weird. You are just as out of breathe but because it’s not 80 degrees it doesn’t come to mind as quick as it does in the summer. DON’T FORGET!!!
8. Cover all body parts (hat, gloves, ankles, face shield):
Appropriate gear goes so much farther than just jackets and pants in the winter. You should make sure almost all of your skin is covered. I am partial to gloves that have half fingers but also the mitten that flaps over. Sometimes when I am feeling just a bit too hot, I will undo that flap and let my fingers hit the air. Just that alone is enough to make me feel cooler. I love a hat over a handband but both work great. I wear tall socks that also wick moisture and I pull them up over my leggings (it’s not real fashionable but hey…) I also wear a neck warmer. Kev loves a face shield. For me though, as long as the neck warmer has a drawstring that I can tighten up over my chin, I’m happy! Also good to pick up a pair of these!
9. Be visible
Remember it gets dark super fast and early. You don’t want to be caught out in the dark on the side of the road. Make sure to plan your run before the sun goes down or wear a reflective vest. Safety first!
10. Have fun
Above all else… don’t take it or yourself too seriously. Have fun with it. Don’t let the gear hold you back. You can make do. Don’t wait till January first to start some kind of exercise routine either. Ask for some of items for Christmas and get out there!! I promise you CAN learn to love it. And if you’re a crazy person like me, you might even like running in the winter better than any other time of year.
p.s. for those wondering about your kiddos. I totally still take them out in the stroller with me. If it’s real cold, we keep it short and sweet for everyone but they still come with. I bundle them up with coats, hats and gloves. Then Finley gets in her little bundler and Rowan (she out grew hers) gets a warm blanket. I also use the weather shield to cover the stroller and block the wind. Creates a cozy cocoon in there for them.