The thought of running in the winter can be daunting. Between the darkness, cold, and often slippery or wet roads and sidewalks, many people choose the treadmill once the weather turns cold and snowy. However, you can get the benefits of fresh air and real-life conditions by running outside in the winter, and you can do it safely. Just follow these steps for fabulous winter running:
1) Be seen! With much less sunlight and shorter day-time hours in the winter, it is extra important to wear reflective gear. Grab a super bright jacket, reflective vest and lights to make sure you’re visible. A headlamp helps people see you, and helps you see the path ahead.
2) Stay dry. One trick I love is to put tape on my shoes to keep out snow and slush. Just for fun, you can get patterned tape (at places like Home Depot or Meijer) to match your shoes – or even pick up reflective tape to add to your visibility. Tape can make the difference between blisters and nice dry feet! If it is snowing or raining or windy, put a waterproof shell jacket on to stay dry and comfortable.
3) Dress in layers. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer (avoid cotton since it gathers moisture against your skin, while wicking fabrics pull moisture away from your skin and allow it to evaporate) and then add layers depending on how cold it is. If you’re not sure how much to wear, run around your block a few times until you are warmed up and then reassess your layering plan. You might find that you can go out in pretty cold weather wearing just a couple of layers as long as you’re dry. Remember that a good deal of heat can be lost through the head, and that fragile parts like fingers and ears are the most likely to be hurt by the cold. Keep your head, ears and hands covered. If it’s really frigid, consider a neck gaiter or balaclava.ou can get patterned tape (at places like Home Depot or Meijer) to match your shoes – or even pick up reflective tape to add to your visibility. Tape can make the difference between blisters and nice dry feet! If it is snowing or raining or windy, put a waterproof shell jacket on to stay dry and comfortable.
4) Watch your step. This year has been particularly icy, and solid ice is something you need to look out for. Adding traction to your shoes for running in crunchy ice and snow is usually sufficient for providing firm footing. Most people opt for a traction device called YakTrax Pro. (Available at Gazelle Sports!) YakTrax wrap around your shoes and have metal pieces that stick into the surface below. Being cautious about your footing, as well as running on slippery surfaces, is going to slow you down. Don’t worry too much if your mile time slows as long as you’re outside and moving safely.
Just a few other things to note: sunlight off the snow can be as bright as straight sun in the summer, so wear sunglasses if needed, and put sunscreen on your face. Speaking of your face… lotion or petroleum jelly, plus lip balm will help keep your lips and face from getting chapped. Tissues against the nose frequently will lead to redness and chapping, so take a tip from a Runner’s World article and “learn to love the farmer’s blow.”
If you’re safe and dry, you’ll have a great time running in the winter. Plus, you’ll have bragging rights for being so hardy!
Adrienne “Yo-A” Asselmeier is a member of the Gazelle Girl Advisory Committee and marketing team.