If you get outside and move for relaxation or for health benefits I would be willing to bet that you have a favorite time of year to do it. I would also be willing to bet that your favorite time of year isn’t January or February. If you are new to running let me let you in on a secret that you may not have realized…it gets really cold, but that is no excuse to quit training.
Believe it or not most people run faster times in the winter than any other time of year. Our bodies like the conditions. Our brains…maybe not so much. When you head out for a your first cold run, and I am talking around 35 and below, you most likely will layer up pretty thick. Maybe some thermal underwear, sweat pants, and wind pants on the bottom. Short sleeve t-shirt, longs sleeve t-shirt, sweat shirt, and top it off with a nice warm coat. You can’t forget the ski mask and gloves.
What is going to happen, about 1.5 miles into the run your body is going to start heating up from the energy you are burning. You are going to want to start shedding clothes to cool off even though it is below freezing outside. Then you won’t be properly protected from the elements; the sweat will freeze and make you more miserable. It is important to keep yourself protected from the elements, but you (most likely) won’t need as much as you think.
I don’t mind running in shorts down to about 40 degrees. Closer to freezing will require some type of running pants, possibly with thermals underneath. On top I am pretty comfortable in a long sleeve shirt at 40 degrees and then add a running jacket below that. The most important thing to keep me comfortable is my running gloves. I have been know to run in my gloves at close to 50 degrees. I must have wimpy hands. If my hands get cold I am not going to run good, but winter gloves or running gloves either one will keep me comfy and happy.
It is also important to cover your head as the thermometer drops. Whether it is a beanie, a headband that covers your ears or even a cool Russian hat with the ear flaps, it doesn’t matter. If it makes you happy and keeps your ears warm you are good to run. You won’t be sweating off as much fluids during winter runs, but you will still need to drink properly. Save the hot chocolate for after the run and drink plenty of water before.
If it is below freezing or even close to it your nose is likely to run. If you have a really cool hipster mustache you will likely get snotsicles. It’s not a pretty thing, but it is a reality. None of your fellow runners will make fun of the snotsicles as most will see it as your badge of honor.
Winter months seems to be the hardest time to stay motivated to run. That is extremely unfortunate because it is also the time of year that we are trying to recover from Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. If you are like me, it is possible that you gained 10 lbs each of those three days. It is important to stay on schedule with your exercise. I think we all know how much harder it is to get going again once we break a habit. So even though it may be cold get out there. Sign up for some winter races and see if you don’t PR. It may be hard to believe, but as I said at the beginning, your body really does like to run in the cold.