Are you new to running in the winter? The idea of getting outside and running during a time of year notorious for ice, snow, and cold can make even seasoned runners balk. You might wonder why anyone would put themselves through such torture. The answer? Running in the winter makes you a better runner. Ahead, read our beginner’s guide to running outside in the winter. With a few precautions, winter running can actually be pretty fun.
What To Know About Winter Running
There are three important things to know before you start running:
- Muscles aren’t as efficient in colder temperatures, which means your run may feel more physically challenging.
- In cold weather, your body produces more lactate. This can slow you down as you run.
- The cold and dry air is harder to breathe, especially if you have asthma.
What You Need for Winter Running
While running in winter might be harder, you can do it safely by preparing accordingly. And no beginner’s guide to running outside in the winter is complete without a list of important supplies.
This is the layer closest to your body. Wear a fitted wicking shirt as a base layer. Fitted base layers are great because they’re more comfortable beneath all your other layers.
The second layer may or may not be necessary. If it’s not too cold outside, you can probably skip this, but if it’s in the single digits or lower outside, a second layer will help by adding more insulation—and therefore more warmth—to your outfit.
Finally, you’ll need some sort of outer layer. This should be windproof at least, and ideally waterproof for snow.
You should wear tights beneath your bottoms in colder weather. The tights act as a good base layer beneath your warm, insulating outer layers. Complete your outfit with a layer of thin, windproof pants, or sweatpants or joggers, depending on your region.
You should protect your hands, feet, and head with warm gloves, socks, and hats, as these are the areas most likely to lose heat.
As long as it’s not too icy, your regular running shoes should be just fine. However, if you expect to run through snow or wet trails, waterproof liners may be a good idea.
Other Important Items
There are a few other items that can make your run a bit easier and more comfortable, especially if you’re in single-digit temperatures.
- Sunglasses: To see better in the blinding snow and ice
- Balaclavas and gaiters: To keep your neck and face warm
- Traction devices: To attach to shoes to stay safe on slippery sidewalks and roads
- Reflective gear: To increase your visibility in the dark
With this gear on hand, you’re ready to tackle any trail in any weather. Stay hydrated, remember your stretches, and have fun tackling all of your running goals this season.
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