Chilly Training: Tips for Running Outdoors

Posted: December 20, 2011 in Running, Training, Winter

Winter training varies a lot person to person, athlete to athlete.  I have to confess I’m a bit  cold-phobic.  Not for any particular reason either– I tend to get chilly easily, but I also have never gotten very good at knowing how to perform well in colder conditions.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot though and there is no room for excuses this season!  So, I’ve done a bit of research for things I’m going to try to make this winter season a more productive one (athletically anyway. Please don’t ask about my thesis 🙂

Remember, eventually Boston will look like this (even if it doesn’t right now…):

1.  Dress up! 

a. Get dry. Use a dri-fit, wicking base layer. This is the stuff designed to wick away sweat (yes you will eventually sweat) from your skin. Keeps ya dry and warm.  DON’T wear cotton as a base!

b. Sock it. Seriously, invest in a good pair of dry-wicking socks.  Wear them for your long weekend run.  Keeps your feet warm no matter the conditions.  AVOID wearing layers of socks.  You’ll end up with blisters, sweating too much and then.. more blisters. It’s gross. Make the investment.

c. Shell out. Wear one thin exterior layer that is wind proof. Makes a HUGE difference especially if you’ll be exposed at all on the run.

d. Buy the extras– gloves, hat, sunglasses (snow is wicked reflective).

2. But don’t overdress (this isn’t a formal, it’s a workout). I know- this one is hard for me, too.  It feels nice at the beginning, but you’ll sweat more and your clothes will absorb it.. in turn making you. Wet Clothes = Cold Body.

3.  Warm up first.  If you’re wary of being underdressed, get dressed, shoes, hat, everything– but run the stairs up and down a few times, or do a few squats or burpees to get your blood flowing.

4. Start Slow.  Yeah, your times might be a little slower than usual, get over it.  Cold air takes some adjusting- about 2 weeks of outdoor runs before you’re really acclimated.  The snow and ice are their own obstacles, so take it easy.  No reason to come out of a run with a sidelining injury.

5.  Start INTO the wind.  Small thing to think about but makes a lot of difference– you’ll thank me on the second half 🙂

6. Run at midday.  If at all possible, run when it’s warmest.  Take a quick jog at lunch time; it will break up a monotonous work day and be a whole lot nicer to run when it’s 10 degrees warmer.  Stash running clothes at work and make sure you bring some soup for lunch after 🙂

So, those are my suggestions (and reminders for myself)!  Do you have any I should think about?  It’s hard to get going sometimes but I try to remind myself how good it feels afterwards– I happen to like the pink glow from a chilly run and nothing feels better than a well-deserved, warm-up shower for recovery.

  1. David says:

    Great post! My feet are always freezing and you are right, extra socks cause blisters!

    This brought about a question. Do dry wicking socks keep the wind from making your feet freeze? Is there another type of thin sock you can wear over the dry wicking sock?

  2. Jamie says:

    My biggest issue isn’t staying warm. It is just getting bundled up in the first place and hauling my butt out the door.

    Sometimes I’ve slept in my running tights just to make it that much easier to get up and run before work on winter mornings.

  3. Alisa says:

    Good tips! I’m all about the lunchtime running right now. Not only is it warmer but it’s also not dark. Dark and cold (and rainy, here) stinks!

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