Winter Running

I’ve been loving my outdoor runs!  I usually hate the winter because it hinders my ability to enjoy the outdoors, but lately I’ve actually brought myself to enjoy it.

I love coming home from Philly for winter break because I am able to get away from the city for a few weeks and enjoy the beautiful, quiet, lovely smelling nature of the country.  Running outside is one of my favorite ways to enjoy this.  However, most winters I find myself bundled up inside, unwilling to venture out in the brisk air that lays outside.  Well, not this year!  I decided I was going to embrace the the winter weather, and get my booty moving to create my own heat.

I have to admit that the first five minutes of every winter run are pretty much dreadful, but I try not to look at them like that.  Instead, I pretend that the first few minutes are serving a positive purpose and are extra cold to simply help me awaken my body.  After I get past the first few awakening minutes, I’m set for the rest of my run.  I’ve got my summer groove on while I jog through the snow-lined streets.  It’s glorious.

Yeah, I'm a dork, but I love it 🙂

My lungs immediately work to warm the cool air, sending its warmth throughout my body.  The extra nip in the air invigorates my body and keeps my legs moving.  If I dare to stop, unlike in the summer, the cool breeze will get me going once again.

On Sunday, I actually wore shorts!  Instead of being in the low 30’s, the afternoon temp. actually jumped its way up to the low 40’s.  I’m a summer gal, and I cherish my running shorts, so for me, this was super exciting.  A winter hat and shorts = great combination.

This year in particular, I’ve found that the winter doesn’t have to inhibit my outdoor activity.  Sure, it takes a little extra drive to make yourself get off the couch and brace the cool winter air, but after the first five minutes, I think you’ll discover that the cool air can truly be “cool”.  Give it a try, tell me what you think…and check out the following advice to get you started.

Take extra time to warm up.  The cold air can make your body feel stiff, so it’s important to give yourself some extra time to stretch out before you get moving outside.  Once you start running, start slow.  Give your body some time to loosen up and adjust to the abrupt temperature change.

Dress warm, but not too warm. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it were 20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside.  If it’s really cold outside, make sure to layer your clothing.  I particularly like to wear an under armor layer because it wicks away sweat, where as cotton absorbs sweat and will keep you wet and cold.  You may also want to consider wearing wind-breaker gear, particularly if there’s a cold breeze going.  I also like to wear a hat.  About 40% of your body heat is lost through your head, so to keep your body warm, a hat is definitely valuable.  Thin gloves are also nice to keep your hands from becoming cold and chapped.  Don’t overdress yourself because there’s nothing more annoying than roasting in ten trillion layers of clothes while you’re running.  Plus, the sweat sopping clothes won’t feel pleasant when you stop running and your body temp. lowers.

Run in mid-afternoon. This is the warmest time of the day and will allow you to benefit from the sun’s natural heat.  The minute the sun goes down, you’ll notice an immediate temperature difference.  Plus, it’s safer to run in daylight.  To be safe, it’s also important to wear brightly colored clothing.

Keep hydrated. Just because your body may not be sweating like a waterfall like it does in the summer, doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep drinking.  It’s just as important to stay hydrated in the winter as it is in the summer.  Your body will sweat to a degree, meaning it’s still losing some fluid.  Make sure to drink before and after your run.  I’m not a fan of carrying water with me while running, but if you’re going for a really long run, consider bringing a warm drink with you, such as tea.

Have fun. If the thought of running outside in 30 degree weather seems absolutely appalling then don’t do it.  However, before you declare winter running an absolute no, I encourage you to at least give it a try.  If you find that you really do not like it, then stick to activities that you can do inside, or hit the treadmill.  Have fun with your workouts and do what makes you feel best.  For me, this means skipping the monotonous treadmill, and spending my few weeks in the country soaking in the inherently beautiful nature around me.

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  • Reply
    Jenna@ Health and Happiness
    December 29, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I love winter running too, it’s like you can run twice as long no problem! It really is hard to get the body warmed up though especially in below freezing temps. I love your advice, I should start wearing gloves. Now I want to go for a run!

  • Reply
    December 29, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    you look too cute in the pics! You just made me want to go out and run but then I remembered that they said it feels like 4 degrees outside lol

  • Reply
    Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    December 29, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Kudos to you for running outside in these freezing temps. It’s hard for me to even get outside long enough to go to the mailbox. I think I’m an island girl at heart.

  • Reply
    December 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    thanks for the tips! I would LOVE to run a half marathon next year and its so hard to immulate running outside to treadmill running, I am just so scared to run outside in this cold here in boston! thanks for the tips!!

  • Reply
    Allie (Live Laugh Eat)
    December 29, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I need to unbaby myself and just brave the cold! I do find that the cold air makes me a little short of breath since I have pretty serious asthma. I think it’s usually my legs that whine from the cold first. Maybe I’ll be running outside in Florida next week!

  • Reply
    December 29, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Great tips. The wind here is brutal so I sadly stay inside unless I have to. Actually the weather people encourage that too. I am afraid I will get knocked out with something blowing around. I am jealous that you are able to enjoy the outside.

  • Reply
    December 29, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    ive been loving running outside too!! i hate cold-but i really dont mind it while im running

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    December 29, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I’m super jealous of your ability to go outside and get a good run in. My body doesn’t like it when I run, specifically my feet. I get plantar warts and calluses on my feet (gross) and it’s just not worth it to me. I prefer the elliptical because it doesn’t require the pounding of my body onto my feet. Although in reality I prefer running, and wish I could do it. I do power walking sometimes instead 🙂

    Glad you enjoyed your run in the 40 degree weather!!

  • Reply
    Teniah Howell
    December 29, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Sounds like you are getting it all figured out – Great advice to those hoping to get some miles in this winter!! I used to run in the winter in Alaska up until about 15 degrees, but that was my max (My husband was one of those crazy people who would run at -45 with ice cycles hanging off his eyelashes and beard! ha)

    One other recommendation that I would add is that if you are running on snow/ice I highly recommend a pair of Yak Trax. They fit over the bottom of your running shoes really nicely and take all the fear out of falling! They are amazing….The biggest part of running in winter is the mind game – you just have to get past the first five minutes of feeling like “it’s not worth this suffering” and once you get going you end up feeling so free and amazing! I loved running in the winter. (Also having a treadmill as a back up is a good plan. I find that running on incline does help simulate the road a little, but it’s definitely easier than actually running outside.)

    Happy winter running everyone!!

  • Reply
    December 29, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Haha – that’s not winter running girl ;)…you’d be wearing WAY more clothes than that! It’s -30 deg C here with windchill – were talking facemask weather…and I DON’T run in that…actually I haven’t ran much lately :(…but generally I’d wimp out at around -5 Celsius (I’m a Canadian)…but most people here go out in all kinds of temps. Usually I’m colder at the end and can’t feel my fingers…the rosy cheeks are nice though :)…burning fingers ? yah, not so much. Cheers!

  • Reply
    December 29, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I’m jealous you love to run outdoors when it’s cold! I hate, hate, hate it! I’m a total treadmill girl when I can start to see my breath! BUT, your advice is great as far as how to run right in the cold!

  • Reply
    Peanut Butter Bliss
    December 29, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    running outside so trumphs the treadmill.
    couldn’t agree more with you about running in the afternoon ! its so much warmer!

  • Reply
    December 29, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    I love running outside, and I usually do a lot of layering in the cold. I think the layering also depends on how your body responds to exercise. I tend to get really hot when I run, so I wear fewer layers than someone who doesn’t break a sweat after 6 miles. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 29, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    I hate the first 5 minutes too! It is almost unbearable but then I warm up and am so glad I hit the road. Great post!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2009 at 1:52 am

    You’re so silly Grace- haha I am def loving the newly added pictures though, definitely makes your blog more relate-able. And gahh cold runs, I do have a small love for them, mainly for the feeling you get in your legs, when you can’t even feel the pain of the run because of the cold anymore. But you’re definitely in a colder area than me. So its subjective. 😉

  • Reply
    Simply Life
    December 30, 2009 at 7:46 am

    way to go! I love running but I don’t love it when my limbs start to go numb so I’m very impressed! 🙂

  • Reply
    January 17, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Hi! I love winter running too – I liked to you in today’s post. 🙂

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