With the winter, comes colder temperatures and fewer daylight hours, but that doesn't mean your outdoor sports activities have to stop for the winter. One of the best things about running is that it is a sport you can do all year round. Regardless of what the temperature is outside, with a few safety precautions and the right running gear, you can continue to enjoy your daily runs. Running in the winter does require some planning to ensure you do not end up stuck in the cold. The following tips will help to ensure your winter runs are not only safe, but enjoyable as well.
The clothing you wear while running in the cold can make all of the difference when it comes to comfort, staying warm and protecting your health. Instead of wearing one thick layer of clothing, it is best to wear several thin layers. Warm air will get trapped between each layer and keep you warmer. Avoid wearing cotton because it holds moisture, which you keep you wet. It is best to wear an outer, breathable layer of nylon to provide protection against the wind, while letting out the moisture and heat to prevent overheating and chilling.
When the temperatures outdoors are freezing or below, it is essential to wear a hat and gloves. The majority of body heat escapes through your exposed skin; you will lose about 30 percent through your hands and feet and about 40 percent through your head, so it is important to cover up as much as possible. Applying Vaseline to exposed areas, such as your face, will help to prevent the risk of frostbite. Mittens are often better than gloves, because your fingers share body heat.
Running into the wind means that at the end of your run, the wind will be at your back. If the wind is at your back it will help to prevent a chill from sweating during your run. Always pace yourself, especially if this is your first time running in the cold. Start out slow and work your way up to the distance you normally run when the weather is nice. For the first few days, it is best to limit your runs to about 10 minutes and finish the distance at home on a treadmill. Increase your time each day and never push yourself to go further than what you are comfortable doing,especially when the temperatures are below freezing.
Regardless of the temperatures outside, staying safe should be your number one priority when running. There are several things you can do to ensure you stay safe while running in the winter, including:
*Carry a cell phone, identification and emergency cash with you in case there is a problem or you get stranded.
*Wear running sunglasses to help prevent snow blindness from the glare of the snow.
*Wear reflective running gear. Since there are fewer daylight hours in the winter, it is common for people to run after dark. Wearing reflective clothing ensures that you will be noticed to traffic. It is also helpful to wear a headlamp or a flashing light.
*Always tell someone about your plans to run. Let them know where you are going and when you are expected to arrive home.
*Avoid wearing headphones. There are several things you will be able to hear before seeing, such as falling, snow covered tree limbs.
*Avoid running on the road during snowy conditions. The ability to maneuver and stop is significantly decreased while its snowing.
*Be alert of the weather conditions and your surroundings. An oncoming storm can cause the temperatures to quickly and rapidly drop, which puts you at risk of hypothermia or frostbite.
Always check with your physician to make sure you are healthy enough to run in the cold. Cold air can trigger an asthma attack and/or chest pain in some people, so make sure you do not have any medical conditions before exercising outdoors in the winter. Remember to protect your lips with lip balm to keep them from getting chapped. Regardless of how cold it is outside, your body will still heat up and lose fluids through sweat when you are running. The cold air has a drying effect, which increases the risk of dehydration, so make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after running.