Running in the winter? These 6 tips will help keep you safe

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, data from the fitness app Fitbit reveals that more users are opting for stress-relieving and non-gym related fitness actives, including running.

If you belong to this group of runners and enjoy logging your miles outdoors, you probably noticed that it’s getting a whole lot chillier than when the pandemic was just getting underway. And while it’s perfectly fine to run outdoors in cold weather (recommendable even), there are some things you should keep in mind to make sure you stay safe and healthy while running in the cold. From the people over at Mindbodygreen, here are 6 tips to run optimally in the wintertime.

Give yourself extra time to warm up: When the weather is brisk and cool, be mindful of going from 0 to 100 as it takes longer to warm up your muscles. According to certified running coach Annick Lamar, it’s best to give yourself 15 minutes of easy running before trying to go fast.

Pay attention to your body: Running in the cold means your body has to dually manage the fatigue of running while maintaining your core temperature. For that reason, it’s wise to pay attention to how your body feels and reduce the intensity if needed.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Just because you might sweat less while running in the winter doesn’t mean you don’t have to hydrate as much as usual. As Lamar puts it, “being hydrated is still very important for energy production, cardiovascular health, and recovery.”

Dress for success: Your base layer should be a performance fabric that sits close to your skin. On top of that, you can wear a long sleeve shirt and perhaps a light jacket that you can shed after you warm up. Layers are good, but you don’t want to overdo it on the bundling—this can cause you to overheat, sweat more, and subsequently become colder due to the sweat. Thermal running leggings are generally a good choice when temperatures really start to drop and opt for socks that keep your ankles warm. In general, when it comes to dressing for your winter runs, Lamar recommends dressing as if it is 10 degrees warmer than the thermometer reads.

Be mindful of daylight: Winter days have less light, so you might have to switch up the time of your run if you want to soak up the light. But if your schedule beckons you to run after dusk, then it’s time invest in some light or reflective gear to keep you and others safe.

Have a game plan for the elements: While you might regard yourself as a warrior who can power through any type of weather, it’s best to be prepared for the elements. Wearing something that soaks through when it rains or snows will make it very difficult for your body to maintain a higher body temperature. Additionally, if it seems like it might rain or snow, don’t run too far from your home and consider doing some loops nearby. As for snowy conditions, proceed with caution and consider staying at home: ice is not friendly to runners.

At the Optimist Daily, we believe fitness is a powerful tool for releasing stress and feeling good in these challenging times. Just make sure to keep it safe as we head into the winter months.

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