My favourite form of exercise is running outdoors. Growing up in Vancouver, it was easy to be outdoors all year round. Alas, now I am in Toronto where winters have been proven difficult for me to keep up my outdoor running. The following are some of my best tips to keep you outside when the temperature drops below 0 degrees.
#1 Get Some Motivation:
It is hard enough getting motivation to run in the summer, but in the winter you are dealing with cold weather and fewer hours of sunlight. Try signing up for a race to keep you on a training schedule. Find a friend or a running room with free weekly clinics. As long as you find something that keeps you accountable, it will be easier to get outside and running.
#2 Stay Warm While Limiting Bulky Layers:
This is probably the most important part about running in winter weather. If you wear heavy gear that does not have technical fibers, you could become too sweaty and get a chill. “The rule of thumb is to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer,” says Maine Track Club president, Mark Grandonico. Always include mittens or gloves (mittens are ideal as they allow for air circulation) and headwear! I got these dressing tips from Runners World:
0° C – 2 tops, 1 bottom, 1 pair of gloves and 1 hat. Can be a long sleeve and vest with tights.
-10°C – 2 tops, 2 bottoms, 1 pair of gloves and 1 hat. Include a wind breaker on top and bottom.
-20°C – 3 tops, 2 bottoms, 1 pair of gloves, 1 hat and 1 scarf or balaclava
< -30°C – Cut yourself some slack and stay inside or go to the gym!
* It is also important to stay visible! Wear reflective gear in low light and darkness and consider a headlamp. Early morning or night, you will likely be running in darker conditions than in the summer.
#3 Pace Yourself Accordingly. Don’t Try To Set A Personal Best
Running in the winter is hard enough without trying to set a personal best. In the winter, you want to work on maintenance. Roads are snowy and icy which means your times will increase but they won’t increase as much as someone not running!
#4 Protect Your Face!
Goggles, face masks, scarves and balaclavas are all great. Try and get as much of your head covered as possible. If you are preventing frostbite on your face for the remaining exposed areas, you can use Body Glide, Vaseline or Kiehl’s All Sport Non-Freeze Face Protector.
If you are able to finish your run with the wind at your back, it will prevent chill as you will no longer have to run into the wind when you are sweaty. I have a friend who is an avid winter runner in Saskatchewan. If he is lucky, his wife gives him a ride against the wind. He will then run the whole way home with the wind at his back.
#5 Treat Yourself Post Run:
Change out of your sweaty clothes as soon as possible. Remember to stretch! Afterwards, treat yourself to a warm drink and meal. Come into Lawrence Park Health Clinic for a massage, you deserve it!
Sources and Additional Information:
Author: Lauren Smith, B.Sc.
Toronto Yonge Eglinton Physiotherapy Assistant