I feel like this is a good time to start talking about adjusting to running in the cold. Many areas have recently experienced a drastic change in temperatures. We had a warm fall and then out of nowhere, winter hit. It can be challenging to get used to running in the cold weather again after months of warm, or even hot, temperatures. Each year it takes me some time to adjust again, so I thought I would share some tips that usually help me with this adjustment period.
Focus on layers
This time of year can be challenging because we may not remember what to wear for certain temperatures. When in doubt, I like to wear an extra layer and know that I can always take it off. I usually start with a base layer tank, and then wear some sort of half-zip/jacket and maybe a long-sleeved t-shirt too, depending on how cold it is. Arm warmers can be helpful too, since they are easy to take off mid-run. I’ve also learned that my hands and ears get cold quickly, so I will usually wear a headband and gloves, and can always take them off if I get warm.
Get in a good warm-up
If you head outside to run without a warm-up, it’s going to be really hard to start running. We should always be warming up before a run, but its even more important when its cold out. I will usually spend a couple of minutes doing some light foam rolling, and then some mobility exercises to get moving before heading out of the door.
Pay attention to wind
When I plan my clothes for a run, I always make sure to factor in the wind. Right before you run you can check the “real feel” but if you are planning an outfit the night before you may just want to look at how much wind is expected. This will make it feel much colder than the actual temperature. If I know it’s going to be windy I usually wear something around my neck like this running buff.
Have something to look forward to
Some days it’s so hard to get motivated to run in the cold, so it can be helpful to have something to look forward to for when you get back. For me, it’s usually a hot breakfast and coffee by the fireplace.
Wait for the sun
If possible, it can help to run a little later in the morning when the sun is already up. This is the time of year when running later in the day can actually be better! I still head out pretty early but just having the sun out on the weekends versus running in the dark (which I do during the week) makes such a huge difference.
Plan your course accordingly
I have learned that certain routes can be more prone to wind than others. Some of the smaller side streets that are blocked by houses on both sides have less wind than big, open roads. I also like to change directions frequently, rather than a straight out and back which will usually mean running into the wind in one direction!
When all else fails, run faster! You will warm up faster, and be done sooner! Take advantage of this time of year when it’s a little easier to pick up the pace.
You may also like: Cold Weather Gear for Winter Running
What other tips do you have for adjusting to running in the cold?
Do you run different routes/at a different time of day in the winter?
Do your paces get faster when it’s cold out?