Winter Running 101
WINTER! I CAN'T! I was born and raised in San Diego, California and when I moved to NYC, I legitimately thought I was going to have to find a way to hibernate, like a bear, because it was so cold. I was petrified to run outside despite the countless running articles that alleged it was perfectly safe. It was awful! I had never seen it snow IN MY LIFE and then Mother Nature was like, "LET'S BREAK SNOWFALL RECORDS! WHAT’S THAT? YOU DON’T LIKE IT WHEN IT’S BELOW 40°F? BOOM POLAR VORTEX LOLOL." That witch!
When it snowed in April one year, I called my Mom crying. She first laughed at me, then requested that I never call her at 4:00am (Western Time) crying about snow again, told me it was a delicious 72°F in San Diego, and finally suggested I stop shaving my legs to grow a fur coat before hanging up. Thanks Mom.
I don't like winter. What I struggle with is just getting outside to run. I forget that there is ice on the ground and it freaks me out when my teeth chatter. If it's below 30, I end up on a dreaded treadmill which, shocker, never ends well. BUT I survived two winters and learned a lot about winter running in the process. Now, I refuse to run on the treadmill (in fact, this year I just up and moved to LA to avoid winter altogether.) Here are my Winter running tips! Let’s start with what to wear...
General rule of thumb...dress like its 15 degrees warmer than it already is. If you’re new to the whole winter running thing, you are going to be doing some trial and error. Be patient, you’ll figure out what works for you and you can always take layers off and wear them around your waist or roll up your sleeves.
Tip #1: Do NOT spend a ton of money on winter gear. GO ONLINE. SHOP THE SALE RACK. BUY OFF OF EBAY. There are certain things you should splurge on (Puffy coats) and certain things to save on (long sleeves and pants). Wait for stuff. If you have 2 pairs of long pants, you can get by for 2 or 3 weeks doing extra laundry. If it means saving $75, that’s worth it to me but I’m frugal. Uniqlo is a GREAT place to get a puffy vest or coat. Those things are amazing.
So what do I wear? (I went ahead and pulled all these foxy clothing options from SIX:02 because they make shopping for workout clothing SO RIDICULOUSLY EASY. And I went with mostly Asics because 90% of my running clothes are Asics. Fleece and puffy coats/vests are courtesy of North Face.)
(This is for all you warm weather states where winter is anything around 60°F) A long sleeve and some capris will do but you will actually be fine in a tank and shorts.
A long sleeve & capris or long leggings/pants, depending on your preference. (Honestly, I go with a short sleeve whenever it's above 40 but I run REALLY hot.)
Long sleeve, vest, long leggings/pants, gloves, and headband. (You may find that this is too much clothing. Personally, I go with a long sleeve and tights. No gloves or headband until I can see my breath.)
Long sleeve, light puffy coat or fleece zip up, long leggings/pants, beanie or headband. (If you run hot, I'd go with a long sleeve, a vest, long pants and something to keep your head and ears warm. MAYBE gloves is your hands get cold.)
(This temperature range, in my personal opinion, has the most wiggle room. If it's windy I wear more layers. You can always shed layers but you can't add more on mid run. Your first layer should be really tight to keep heat in. Go to Target or Uniqlo for cheap base layers. Your second layer can be bulkier but tighter is better. I love vests because they keep my core warm.)
Long sleeve, (possible vest), light puffy coat or fleece zip up, long leggings/pants (possible 2 pairs), headband and/or beanie, gloves. (My first year I went with a ton of clothes because it was so cold. Now I'll wear one pair of tights, a long sleeve, possibly a vest or coat, gloves and a headband.)
20 °F or Below (GOD HELP YOU)
There’s a really good chance I won’t be running because I don’t run below 20 °F. If I’m desperate I’ll do it.
2 long sleeves, vest, puffy coat or fleece zip up, long leggings/pants 2 pairs, gloves, wool socks, beanie and headband. (NOTE the above picture is a joke. Don't wear 4 pairs of pants and 2 coats.) It's trial and error! You will find that you can always shed layers.
Sunglasses: If the sun is out, I wear sunglasses. There’s something about cold air that just makes my eyes tear up and sunglasses help. I wear my normal sunglasses that I know won’t fog up because I refuse to buy special athletic sunglasses.
Hand Warmers: They are life changing but terrible for the environment so use sparingly. Throw them in your pockets or in your gloves and you’ll warm right up.
Lip Balm: I went for a quick 5 mile run in 27 °F weather once and my lips were bleeding by the time I got back. This is why you lather your lips in lip balm. Protect them.
Wool Socks: Go get wool socks. Do not run in anything under 30 without them. Can you get by without them? Yes. Will you be happier in wool socks? YES.
FLEECE: Fleece is incredible and is to be warn at all times.
You can also find leggings that are fleece lined and they are pretty wonderful as well.
Warm up inside: There is something awful about that first step into the blistering cold but if you take some time inside to bounce around or do those dynamic stretches you neglect, that initial blast won’t feel as jarring. Get outdoors when you’re heart rate is up. It will change your life.
Change out of sweaty clothes ASAP: In winter you HAVE to get out of your clothes ASAP because your body temperature is going to drop quickly. It’s not safe and it’s not fun to stay in your cold sweaty clothes. Take that sports bra off and put on something warm and snuggly on as soon as you can.
Drink something warm: Here’s your excuse to have a cup of hot cocoa after you run. Reach for something warm like tea or cocoa to help keep your body temperature warm.
Be seen: Most of my running clothes are black, if that’s the case with you, wear a safety light. It’s so important to make yourself visible and a blinking safety light or a reflective vest is a cheap and easy way to make that happen.
Yaktrax: These guys are a godsend when there's snow and ice on the ground. They go on over your shoes and help with traction. I'm obsessed with mine.
Otherwise, trial and error! You'll figure it out. Use caution if it's icy out and run with friends. What are some of your tried and true winter running tips?
Until next time...#LetItGO! LET IT GO! JK JK JK #RunSelfieRepeat.