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.
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.