Winter Running Tips

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Today is the first day of winter and many of us have already experienced a lot of winter weather. Here in Boston, we’ve already gotten more snow this season than all of last winter (which wasn’t much for a season but it’s seemed like a good amount so far this year!). Anyway, as the season changes so does our routine before heading out the door for a run. For successful winter running, more clothing and more gear is required to make sure that not only do you stay warm but also safe and injury free.

This winter, I do not have access to a treadmill so all of my running will be done outside. Because of this, these five tips are something I make sure to do everyday to ensure that I’m training safely and smart!

Below are my top five winter running tips:

1.) Wear protective gear – I’ve been talking a lot about this on my Instagram (@elizabeth_healthy_life) but with snow, ice, and slush around, it is so important to wear protective gear. I highly suggest getting a pair of spikes if you live anywhere that typically gets snow. I have Kahtoola spikes and have been wearing them since 2018. Yaktrax also makes spikes. You simply slip them on over your sneaker and the spikes grip into the snow and ice to make sure you don’t slip mid stride.

Another piece of gear to invest in is a reflective vest because there’s not as much daylight. I wear the Noxgear Tracer360 and feel like I am very visible to cars. There are multiple colored light options on both the front and the back of the vest plus reflective straps.

2.) Dress appropriately – When the temperature drops below 40 degrees, that’s when I start adding in more clothing. I’ll wear long sleeves, long leggings, and potentially my outer shell depending on the “feels like” temperature and wind. When it drops below freezing, that’s when I break out the gloves, hat, and either a quarter zip or a warmer outer layer. Make sure that the layers immediately on top of your skin are wicking and keep in mind that you can always take outer layers off.

Something else I keep in mind is to wear colorful clothing. With the bare trees and snow, there’s a lot of grey outside. Make yourself pop with a brightly colored hat, jacket, and leggings. I sometimes feel like a jumbled up rainbow when I’m running but hey, if cars see me as they’re approaching me, it’s well worth it.

Also – if you’ll be running on snow and it’s sunny outside, wear sunglasses!

3.) Be smart & aware – Do not be afraid to be flexible with your running schedule. If it’s dumping snow and the plows are out, try to rework your week and let that day be a rest day (I did this exact same thing last week).

Being aware of your surroundings includes a few different things. Look ahead of you and scan the road for ice as you’re running. If you’re on snow, plan ahead with your footing and make sure you land on something that looks supportive. And most importantly, be aware of cars. Hopefully they see you with your colored gear and vest on, but that’s not something you can count on. Look ahead to see if cars are approaching you and every so often, look behind you to see what’s going on. Staying alert is particularly important if a car hits a spot of black ice.

4.) Adjust your paces – This is applicable if you’re running on snow and if the temperatures are really cold (sub freezing). It’s a much harder effort running on snow than it is on dry terrain, especially if the snow is not completely packed down (then it feels a lot like running on sand). Whatever pace you’re running – easy or tempo – turn your attention to an effort based run as opposed to pace based. Don’t fret if your pace is a few seconds slower per mile – what matters most is that you gave the appropriate effort for that day.

Same with with frigid temperatures. If it’s 8 degrees can you really expect yourself to run as fast as you would on your speed workout if it was 50? I hope not! Be realistic.

5.) Stay hydrated – We runners may not feel as depleted and sweaty after a run because of the colder temps, but our bodies still need it! That doesn’t change. Hydrating can be easily overlooked in the winter whether you’re running or not, so make an extra effort to keep up with both water and electrolyte intake.

I believe that the better you prepare yourself before heading out the door, the more successful your run will be. At first, it may seem like a lot of extra steps to add on layers, a vest, and spikes, but once you’re in the routine of putting everything on it won’t take much time at all.

What’s something you make sure to do while running in the winter?

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