Running safely and comfortably in cold weather is all about planning ahead and LAYERS! In fact, once you learn a few key tips, many of you will actually find running in cold weather much more pleasant than running in the heat.
Here are a few general tips to help you run safely and comfortably in cold weather:
– Dress for 15-20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside to prevent overheating. You should feel slightly chilly when you start your run, but you will warm up quickly once you get going.
– Cotton is a poor choice for running clothes, socks, etc. It doesn’t wick away moisture and will cause you to chill. Choose technical materials that are designed to keep you dry and warm. Remember, “Cotton is Rotten”.
Before going for a run in the cold, go through the following head-to-toe checklist:
- Head and Neck: You can loose 30-40% of your body heat through your head. So, be sure to wear a warm hat, such as a wool or fleece on really cold days. People who tend to over heat often prefer headbands, unless it is extremely cold, then you’ll need a hat.
- Upper Body: The key to keeping your upper body warm is layers –NOT wearing one heavy layer! This can’t be stressed enough, as you will definitely overheat if you try to complete a hard workout in a heavy coat!! Here are the layers that you will need:
- Base/wicking layer – this is a snug fitting, light layer made out of technical fabric, such as DryFit, CoolMax, polypropylene, etc., and will serve to wick the moisture away from your skin.
- Middle layer – this is your insulating layer and will also serve to continue wicking moisture away from your skin, but should also provide some insulation. Fleece, Thermax, and Polartex are examples of suggested materials for your middle layer.
- Outer wind-proof layer – this layer is reserved for extremely cold weather and protects you from the elements, but still allows moisture and heat to escape so you don’t chill or overheat. Look for outer layers that have zippers to help heat escape and avoid non-breathable layers.
- Legs: Running tights or running pants made of synthetic, technical material are perfect for cold weather running. Running tights come in a variety of thicknesses to accommodate even the coldest of temperatures.
- Hands and Feet: Running gloves or mittens are critical for keeping your hands warm on cold days. Mittens are the best choice for colder days. Heat packets that give off heat once opened can be inserted into your gloves to keep your hands warm, if needed. Thick running socks made of wool or Drymax will keep your feet warm. A moisture wicking sock liner can also be used.