I’ve been dreading it so much. What happens to my running schedule once it gets freezing and snowy out? It’s actually going to be pretty warm today, but I know the freezing cold is just lurking around fall’s corner. In hopes of calming and preparing my mind, I’ve expressed 3 main concerns I have with fall/winter running conditions: temperature, traction, and less daylight. Stay safe and be smart with the following tips I’ve compiled:
I don’t know about you, but the cold weather is what scares me the most about running in the winter—I’m such a wuss when it comes to extreme temperatures. As I train for my first marathon I want to make sure I stay motivated and not let the cold stop me. This means taking some extra precautions.
A top priority with winter running is to stay warm so you don’t injure yourself or get sick. I tend to look past this, but you need to take the time to warm up. Once you start your run, try to go into the wind. This way you’ll avoid getting chilled when you head back and are most likely sweaty. The wind can really affect your run. Pay attention to the wind chill. You may want to add a windbreaker or jacket. Another option would be to choose a route that shelters a bit from the wind, such as a wooded area.
Whether it’s windy or not, make sure to dress for about 15-20 degrees warmer than it is. Runner’s World has a great What Should I Wear? page that lets you input the weather conditions, letting you know what you should wear running. If it’s especially cold out, try to run at a warmer time of the day like the afternoon. Despite the season or temperature outside, the following picture details what I usually will wear. I avoid temperatures below 20 degrees because it’s just straight up painful to breathe then.
I’ve always avoided running when it’s icy and/or snowy out, but this year I’m going to do my best at running in the less-than-ideal conditions. Don’t get me wrong—I’m going to try to be smart about it and avoid the roads when I know they’re pure ice, but sometimes a little snow makes for a way-too-convenient excuse to skip a run. When it comes to running and traction, focusing on your steps is key.
If you’re out running and the roads aren’t completely clear, it’s best to run on fresh snow rather than packed snow or icy patches—it offers better traction. However, if you have no choice but to cross a slippery patch, stop to walk over the ice. Another way to help avoid slipping is to opt for special gear like Yak Trax for even better control. With or without such gear, make sure you maintain balance.
You don’t want to reach or lean too far. It might help to shorten your running stride to help you stay above your steps, if you’re having issues with a slippery route. As you adjust your running to stay balanced, you may find that muscles are sore that have never been before. If this is the case, it might be wise to incorporate a few muscle recovery methods. Don’t be afraid to adjust your running to cope. Slow down if you need to. It’s better to get in a run, even if it’s at a slower pace, than injure yourself, preventing future runs from happening at all.
3. Limited Daylight
As fall comes to an end and winter creeps in, the amount of daylight hours have greatly diminished. This invites dropped temperatures, snowy conditions, and bad drivers. Even though there’s less sunny goodness in the average day, that doesn’t mean fitting in a run is impossible. Just be aware you may need to adjust your running schedule, priorities, and gear.
Before the freakishly early sunset, prepare for the surprisingly strong rays and soak up the warmth. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. You’re still exposed to the sun, and the glare from the snow can reflect the rays. There’s a plus to the harsh sun though—it can make up for the crazy cold weather! When it feels like (or is) the dead of winter, try to run midday, as it’s usually much warmer. And if you have to run early or late in the day, try to go on a shorter run. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice intensity though. If it’s not super snowy/icy out, try to incorporate HIIT into your outdoor running. Then again, if you’re running and it’s still dark or getting dark, remember two things.
Be visible and stay aware. In order to be visible to others, wear bright clothing and reflective gear. It also helps to run in well-lit areas. Let’s face it, people tend to suck at driving in the winter because they’re not used to the conditions. Always assume cars don’t see you. A few ways you can heighten your senses is to unplug from your music, run facing traffic, and cross at designated spots. You’ll hear better, see approaching cars, and be conscious of dangerous points.
These obstacles that come with fall and winter make me even more excited to move to San Diego soon. As for right now, Illinois brings me the wonderful Midwest weather conditions, and I’ll just have to deal with it. If you’re in the same snowy boat as me, just remember…prepare for temperatures, adjust for better traction, and be aware of the lack of daylight.
As long as we take precautions, fall and winter shouldn’t scare us out of running (at least too often).
Now it’s your turn…
What’s your favorite weather to run in?
I’d say 50 degrees and overcast with a light breeze and the occasional sprinkling—awwww yeahhhhh.
Any tips you have on running in the fall/winter?