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Running in the Cold? Be Prepared

It’s winter.  Training doesn’t stop just because it’s cold or snowy out and neither should you.  Running in the cold is just fine as long as you’re prepared for it.  With the scientifically perfect running temperature somewhere between 50 and 55 degrees, running when it’s 25 outside can present a few challenges.  Here are five tips to help you succeed with your cold weather training.

Plan.  Give yourself time to get moving indoors and figure out which way the wind is blowing.  It won’t feel quite so chilly out there if your blood is pumping.  You’ll also want to finish your run with the wind, rather than against it.  This will prevent your sweaty body from getting blasted by cold air and help you finish strong.running in the cold

Layer up.  You’ll figure out what works best for you as you gain experience but if temperatures are below freezing, layers should be at least two deep on the bottom and two or three thick on the top.  I like to be warm.  My below freezing gear includes stockings, long tights, wool socks, tank, thin layer and a fleece lined half zip.  Make sure your outermost layer is bright and remember that you can always take something off should you become too warm.

Protect your small parts.  Even if there isn’t snow on the ground, you’ll want to protect your feet from the elements.  Wear shoes with the least amount of mesh possible and try pairing them with wool socks.  Keep hands and ears safe by always sporting earmuffs or a warmer and gloves or mittens.  Running in the cold can look cool!

Stay hydrated.  Even if you’re not dripping sweat, running in the cold burns through fluids as your body works overtime to keep your core temperature and muscles warm enough to perform.  Your body doesn’t send the same thirst signals to your brain in the cold, making a good hydration plan a key part of running in the cold.

Expect to slow down.  Your body works overtime trying to stay warm but muscle contractions just don’t happen with the same power as when it’s 50 degrees.  There are a slew of other reasons running in the cold isn’t the same as on those perfect days, too.  If there’s snow on the ground, expect to slow down even more as you pick your way through snow drifts and potential icy areas.

Use these tips for running in the cold to stay safe and warm this winter.

Coach Meredith