Winter Running Tips

Today was one of the coldest days of the year so far.  I know, we’ve gotten soft with our winters lately, but -24C with the windchill still seems pretty cold to me – whether I’m used to it or not.  SO, what do I do to get out the door on days like this?  A few tips:

  • “Run” an errand.  You probably have to get out the door for something, right?  If you’re going to brave the outside anyway, why not just don your running gear and see if you can add a few miles to and from your destination if needed (I needed to get to the bank today, so used that as my reason to get out the door)
  • Take the pressure off your time and pace.  In freezing conditions and snowy/icy footing, use effort as your guide, not pace.  I had a 5 mile loop in mind today and left my watch at home.
  • If you do have an effort session in the plans, consider hills instead of intervals.  Hills work on strength, so effort based repeats work well and you don’t have to be as concerned with time – you can still get the same quantity in as you do in the warmer weather.  I have hills planned for my workout tomorrow with my dedicated and intrepid group so I went to check out how our hill looks.

This is the top of it – the city has salted a path – yay!  Here’s the middle part:

I tried to take a picture from the bottom to show the 3rd part and the better perspective, but that’s when my phone decided it was too cold to take any more pictures.

  • Bundle up!  Ok, sometimes when I’m feeling particularly wimpy, I tell myself I’m going to overdo it on the clothing so that I don’t have that uncomfortable first 5 minutes of cold before I warm up.  That’s what I did today, but I think I was just overdressed.  I had planned an easy day, so didn’t plan on sweating too much.  If you’re doing a tempo, you should really be too cold when you just start out in order to be comfortable mid-run.  This will also motivate you to run fast!  What I wore today:

That is a pair of running tights, a pair of windpants, two long-sleeved shirts, a jacket, two pairs of gloves (although I took one off later to bundle my poor cold phone at the expense of one hand’s warmth), one scarf and two hats.  I don’t know why I felt I needed two hats – one of them isn’t even a running hat.  As you can see, I don’t worry too much about fashion sense on days like these.

  • Don’t stray too far from home.  If you’re doing a longer run, do a couple of loops which go near (but not right by) your house.  I don’t like running by my house when I’m planning on continuing because it always makes me feel like stopping.  But if you do need to stop and walk for whatever reason when it’s cold, you will lose heat quickly and could find yourself in trouble if you’re too far from home.
  • Enjoy the different sensations from running in the winter – my run today was silent with just the sound of my feet crunching on snow.  Your routes are all new again with different perspective.  The seasons keep it fresh.  I can’t imagine seeing the exact same scenery on my runs for 12 months of the year (ok, maybe people who are forced to run year-round in California aren’t suffering, but let’s try to look on the bright side).  Here was the sun in all it’s blazing glory today:
  • Finally, when you’re getting out and running in this, you deserve a treat.  I ended my run at Starbucks where my phone came back to life, I got a yummy warm drink, and all was well with the world.