6 Tried-and-True Tips for Running in the Cold

Well it finally happened. It got cold. After running in shorts and short sleeves for months, it’s finally time to break out the leggings and quarter zip jackets. It’s the holiday season, when it’s harder than ever to motivate yourself to climb out from under the fleece blankets covering your bed and head out the door into the chilly air. However, it can also be the time for peaceful runs through the snow and neighborhoods lit up with decorations if you prepare yourself well for the conditions.

Luckily, the Charm City Run Timonium staff is back to share personal advice for staying warm, dry and comfortable during those chilly runs. Here are our top tips:

1. Loosen up before you open your front door.

Winter is the season for injury! Colder temperatures mean that your body takes longer to warm up. Help speed up this process by taking the time to prepare yourself for a run. Dynamic stretching prior to starting your run is key. Try leg swings for a quick way to loosen your leg muscles. Start facing a wall or chair with your hands on either for support. Swing your leg in front of your body, still facing the wall, from side to side. Do this 10-15 times and repeat with the other leg. For side leg swings, position yourself so your side is facing the wall or chair and use one arm for support as you swing your inside leg forward and back. After 10-15 reps, switch sides and repeat on your other inside leg. Taking the time to warm up your muscles will help to prevent extreme tightening when you start off running in colder temperatures.

 

2. Double layer as needed: tops, bottoms and socks.

Casey, one of our staff members, tends to get cold easily so she is a pro when it comes to layering in preparation for winter runs. “I layer my top half like the Michelin Man, but always make sure that I have my base layer tucked into my base layer pants. Tucking my shirt in leaves little room for wind to fly up my back and helps a lot,” she says. Casey also recommends wearing two pairs of pants and/or socks when needed. Fleece lined or heat retaining running gear can also help keep retain body heat. Experiment with what layering works best for you! That being said also keep in mind that you should…

 

3. Plan for a warmer temperature than what you see on your weather app.

Although it may not seem like it when you think about the chilly conditions outside, know that you will warm up once you get moving. Kelly, our Charm City Run Training Director, says that a good rule of thumb is to plan for 15 degrees warmer than the temperature. You should feel slightly chilly when you first step outside but if you have properly warmed up, you shouldn’t be too uncomfortable. Experiment with layers: try a lightweight jacket that you can tie around your waist if you get hot or a hat that you can easily carry if you feel as though you are overheating.

 

4. Don’t leave your gloves and hat on the kitchen counter!

Speaking of hats, don’t overlook accessories when you plan for your winter runs. Keeping your hands and head warm will make a big difference in how comfortable you feel mid-run. Store manager Caroline shares, “I always make sure my hands and head are covered.  I love the Brooks Adapt glove that can either be a mitten or a glove.  I also always wear some sort of beanie: either Under Armour or Brooks depending on how cold it is.” Depending on how cold you feel on runs, there are options from the thinnest of gloves to heat generating ear warmers. 

 Don't forget your warm hat!

Don't forget your warm hat!

5. Treat yourself.

Give yourself a reward for sticking to your training plan and braving the cold. Casey likes to have her coffee machine ready to go so all she has to do is press the start button when we gets in from her chilly winter runs. “This gives me something to look forward to after running in less than ideal conditions!” You can also try a hot bath or shower to pamper your body while you defrost!

 

6. Run with a buddy!

Cold winter runs feel a lot warmer and merrier with a friend. Make plans to meet up with a training partner for a run to hold yourself accountable. Swapping funny holiday stories and cookie recipes will make the distance fly by. If you want a coach and a whole group of other dedicated runners to train with through the chilly months, consider joining one of our training groups.

 Our Winter 10K training group heads out for a hill workout!

Our Winter 10K training group heads out for a hill workout!

7. Use super chilly days as an opportunity to cross train, stretch or strengthen.

If the conditions are hazardous or the temperatures are too low for you to get in a beneficial training run or workout, take advantage of the day to rest, strengthen or cross-train! One of our team members, Nate, is from Texas and much prefers the heat to the cold. He says that he will run in the cold if he has to, but he also likes to “use a few of the colder days as cross training, stretching, and injury prevention days.” Sometimes he goes to the gym to take classes like spin, yoga or pilates or use the bike or elliptical for a cardio alternative to running. On days he is snowed in he takes time to stretch, roll out with a foam roller or does yoga on his own. “I really focus on the parts of my body that have been just a little off during my past run. These are the little things to remember in the greater goal of making it to the finish line healthy,” Nate explains.

 Some of our runners try out a pilates reformer class.

Some of our runners try out a pilates reformer class.

However you motivate yourself to run in the cold this winter, make sure you are protected, visible and having fun! For tips on running in the dark, click here.

What is your favorite way to reward yourself after a cold, winter run? Share with us in the comments below.


About The Author: Lizzy Peper

Lizzy is the Marketing Coordinator for Charm City Run and is currently training for spring half marathons. Previously she worked as a part time Sales Associate for two years in the Timonium store. Lizzy ran competitively as a member of the cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams at Towson High School and Marist College. She co-captained the Division I Marist women's cross country team in 2015 and graduated in 2016 with a degree in Communication and a concentration in Public Relations. Check out her personal blog at pepinurstep.com.