Tips for Running in Sub Zero Temperatures

For a run­ner, the win­ter months are typ­i­cal­ly a time spent in bed dream­ing of sum­mer races. If one does man­age to muster enough moti­va­tion to dust off the run­ning shoes, the miles are usu­al­ly logged on a tread­mill. But if you’re will­ing to make a few sim­ple adjust­ments to your sum­mer rou­tine, win­ter run­ning can be extreme­ly enjoy­able.  Here are some tips.

Sleep In
As a run­ner, you’re prob­a­bly used to get­ting up before the sun has even had a chance to peer its gold­en head above the hori­zon.  One of the ben­e­fits of out­door win­ter run­ning is you get to sleep in.  Win­ter run­ning is best dur­ing the day­light hours; you’ll be warmer and you’ll be able to see where you’re going.

Run Into the Wind First
Plan so you’re run­ning into the wind when you start. That way, you’ll have it push­ing your back on the return trip.  Run­ning into the wind is much bet­ter when your clothes haven’t had a chance to get wet with sweat.  Turn­ing around half way through a run and hav­ing the wind at your back will keep you feel warmer since, at this point, you’ll like­ly be damp.  On extreme­ly windy days, bribe your spouse/neighbor/kids, etc. to dri­ve you out into the wind so you can run the entire dis­tance home with the wind at your back. Do this once and you’ll real­ize it’s mon­ey well spent.

Split Long Runs into Loops
Part of the enjoy­ment of warm weath­er run­ning is get­ting lost and explor­ing.  Win­ter, on the oth­er hand, is not the best time to get lost. Split your runs into man­age­able loops with mul­ti­ple points where you can stop to warm up if need be.  If you need to run 9 miles in a day, split it into three three-mile loops.  While the neigh­bors might think you’re crazy for run­ning by their house three times in sub­ze­ro tem­per­a­tures, it’d be much more embar­rass­ing to have to call them for a ride on a freez­ing, quick­ly dark­en­ing, windy night.

For­get About Speed Work
You now have a great excuse to not to your week­ly speed work work­outs.  Asphalt roads can go from wet to icy very fast so instead, focus on build­ing a large fit­ness base. Don’t wor­ry, when spring rolls around you can once again focus on inter­vals. If you absolute­ly must do speed work, find an indoor track.

Cov­er Exposed Skin
Exposed clam­my skin is frost­bite wait­ing to hap­pen. How­ev­er, dur­ing parts of your run, cov­er­ing up your face will just make you uncom­fort­able and scratchy.  Bring some­thing that is remov­able, but can also cov­er exposed skin when need­ed — like a beanie or a bal­a­cla­va. This in com­bi­na­tion with a shell that zips up to your nose will keep you pre­pared in case you need to hide your face from Jack Frost.

Run with a Friend
It can be hard enough to find the moti­va­tion to run in the sum­mer­time when the birds are chirp­ing and the sun is shin­ing bright­ly.  In the win­ter time when snow cov­ers the land­scape and the birds have flown south, moti­va­tion to run can be as rare as the Hope Dia­mond.  Run­ning with a friend can help muster some moti­va­tion as it holds you account­able to some­one else.  It can also make your runs safer as two heads are bet­ter than one (most of the time) should an emer­gency arise.

Fol­low­ing these sim­ple tips can help turn you into a year-round run­ner; because a run in the cold is always bet­ter than a run on the treadmill.