Unfortunately, some of the major setbacks during the colder months of the year can make running difficult and dreary. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to stop running outside once it gets cold out. And believe it or not, you can actually continue running through the winter months, through the cold, snow, and ice, without being miserable.
How To Layer For Winter Runs To Stay Warm
Before you even head out the door you’re going to want to get dressed (duh) properly. The last thing you want to do while you’re out on your run is cold and drenched with sweat. Cold weather essentials include gear that not only keeps you warm and not distracted but safe and efficient with your training. Skip the thick jacket and opt for a couple of thin layers. We’re talking about a synthetic base layer that’s going to help wick the sweat right off your skin as well as a waterproof outer layer to fight rain, snow, mist or otherwise.
Your noggin should be covered with a beanie or headband that covers your ears because this is where you’re going to lose the most heat. You could always layer a hat on top of that if you’re running in the elements, like the wind (more on that later), rain, or snow.
Wearing something that covers the neck and face can be key as well. We recommend a balaclava, scarf, or a neck gaiter. The less skin you can show is going to be better. Gloves shouldn’t be overlooked for the fingers and hands, and we recommend fully covering your legs with tights, running pants, or tall socks and shorts if you must. There’s a nifty new invention, fleece-lined leggings, that are pretty amazing as well. And dudes? Little handy tip – wearing compression or wind-proof type brief is going to save your little friends down under from unnecessary chafing, irritation, or moisture buildup.
Lastly, shoes are important too. Your ultra breathable Nike’s probably isn't going to work to run in for colder winter months because they’re full of holes. Sure they breathe well, but they’re also really good for absorbing moisture where your foot is. While you want them to be comfortable and breathable, opt for a running shoe that has a protective or weather-resistant outer layer.
Stretch Before Running
Indoors that is… Stretching indoors for 8-10 minutes before you head out on a run is going to not only save your body in the long run but also make your winter run a lot more enjoyable. During colder months, a dynamic warm-up routine to increase blood flow will reduce your risk of injury. Focus on your hamstrings, gluteal muscles, groin, calves, IT band, hip flexors, and quads for optimum performance.
Hydration During A Run
Running in the cold and winter months can make it harder to stay hydrated and easier to get dehydrated. Adequately hydrating before and after, and if you’re running longer than an hour, during, is extremely important. Water acts like lotion for your skin. It’s a lubricant to keep your body well-oiled and moving with ease. You’ll have a better run and post-run recovery if you do.
It's important to keep in mind that sometimes, water just isn't enough, especially for endurance athletes. This is where adding a BCAA and electrolyte powder to your water can prove to be very beneficial. Delivering nutrients when your body needs them most can be the difference between peak performance and serious fatigue.
RELATED PRODUCT: Swolverine's 2:1:1 Electrolyte BCAA Powder in Lemon Lime
Don't Run Against The Wind
Check the weather before you go – if the wind is more than 10 mph, it’s going to affect your training. We’re not just talking about your pace time either. When you run in the wind the extra weather can also contribute to reducing your body temperature faster. If you are going to run in the wind, we recommend a few things:
- Don’t run against the wind – running into the wind can make you very cold
- Avoid long runs in the wind
- Face the wind at the beginning of your workout when you are least sweaty
- Zigzag your pattern to avoid unnecessary temperature drop and wind effect
- Wear a wind blocking outer layer
Running in Rain & Mud
Simple concept, but can get complicated. Wearing a visor or a waterproof hat is a very easy way to keep the rain out of your eyes to stay focused on the road ahead. If your shoes are getting waterlogged, give your toes and heels a good coating of petroleum jelly to prevent unnecessary rubbing and blister formation. If you take your phone and/or headphones with you, get a waterproof case or put it in a waterproof pouch.
Ponchos (or plastic garbage bags) are a wonderful way to stay moisture-free while running in your favorite outfit. Oh, and last note on shoes – make sure they aren’t worn smooth or you’re going to run smooth your booty when you slip and fall. Rain can create potholes and lots of mud for those who run on trails, so while the pothole might look like a smooth puddle, watch where you run and protect those ankles!
Where You Run During Winter, Matters
Sure, shorter loops might be a little more boring than your typical out and back long distance run, but they’re a lot better than the treadmill! Instead, pick a loop rather than opting for a long out and back run during winter months.
Why should you pick a loop to run during colder months? A few reasons to consider include injury, temperature, sickness, and fatigue. You don’t want to be a long way away from home if any of these conditions ensue, like a sudden change in the weather or a cough and dry throat that keeps you from breathing that crisp winter air in. Better to be safe than sorry, we always say.
How To Run In The Snow
If it’s not too slippery or too deep, running in snow provides a zen-like experience for many runners. Not to mention, a few inches of snow can provide your body with a little cushion while running.
The key to running in the snow? Easy effort and lower mileage. Similar to running in sand, when you run in snow you’re going to be relying on your core strength and stabilizing muscles a bit more to keep you upright so you’re going to be sorer than you would be on days you’re running on pavement and in the rain. If you’re trying to run in icy conditions, we recommend opting for a rest day or the treadmill indoors for safety reasons.
If your recovery is an issue, we recommend putting one, 5g unflavored scoop of l-glutamine in your water and drinking it before, during, or after your run. The reason? Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid, but at times of high demand and stress, the body utilizes and depletes stores of it, making it a conditionally essential amino acid.
During endurance training and running, glutamine levels are reduced, risking the chances of catching cold and catabolizing muscles, reducing efforts and times of recovery post-run. If you’re looking to grow muscle, increase recovery, enhance rehydration and endurance, then we recommend snagging a bottle of Swolverine’s glutamine powder, available in 100 servings (that’ll last you ~3 months!).
RELATED PRODUCT: Swolverine's L-Glutamine Powder
Yep, we said it. Don’t be a stupid runner. We’re talking about the kind that goes out into the forest with 2 feet of new snow, ones that run on the side of oncoming traffic in all black, who don’t wear reflective clothing, a light, or bring their identification with them. Staying safe should be your number one concern when running during winter months. Wear something you’re going to be seen in and that you can see with, like a headlamp. If you’re concerned about your route or the weather, tell someone where you’re going and when you’re going.
Just because colder months are in the forecast ahead doesn't mean you have to stay indoors or stop your training altogether. Running and jogging is a great way to improve your physical and mental health. By being a smart runner, we promise you’re going to make the road ahead a lot warmer and certainly more enjoyable.
L-Glutamine is clinically proven to help you recover faster, and hydrate, by reducing muscle mass breakdown and exercise-induced muscle soreness.
Keep your body fueled for your cold-weather endurance training.
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