Winter weather and colder temperatures are now hitting most of the country. In Colorado we have only seen a little bit of snow and a few days of freezing temps. Last winter was my first season of running in the bike off season and I learned a lot from the experience. Below are my top 5 tips for getting out there this winter no matter where you live.
1. Proper Clothing: I live in Boulder, Colorado where we have over 300 days of sun a year. We have our fair share of cold days and having the right clothing makes all the difference in the world. My rule of thumb is that once the temps are below 50 degrees to wear pants or tights and to be sure to have a long shirt and jacket. If it’s windy out, it’s crucial to have a windbreaker or wind blocker type jacket.
When it gets real cold most people go for many layers. This is exactly what you don’t want to do. The reason you don’t want too many layers is that you’ll be working up a sweat and wicking that extra sweat away from your skin becomes harder for every layer that you have on. What’s worse is that if you are out running, work up a good sweat and then want to do a long cool down by walking, you can quickly find out how cold you can get with all the sweat cooling off in your clothes.
Lastly, don’t forget the hat and gloves if the temps are below 40 degrees. Your grandmother wasn’t joking about wearing your hat when it’s cold. You do lose the majority of your body heat from your head, so put that hat on. I recommend a moisture wicking running hat like one from Headsweats.
2. Ditch The Treadmill: I’ll be honest, I despise treadmills. I even call them treadmills and I try to avoid them as much as possible. An hour on a treadmill feels like 10 for me. The boredom factor goes through the roof for me and I’m pretty sure the way we run on a treadmill is drastically different than how we run outside. You’ll only catch me on a treadmill if I absolutely can’t miss my workout and there is a nasty snowstorm going on that is not safe enough for running. But if the snow is that bad outside, I’m probably out skiing!
3. Traction: After a good snow and then some melting and refreezing the trails can get pretty sketchy. My go-to for traction when I need something more than just my trail shoes are YakTrax. I use the Pro model that have the velcro safety strap that goes across the laces of the shoe. These seem to work awesome when the trails are snow packed with some ice. If the trails become more like ice skating rinks, then I would recommend StabilIcers to provide even more traction. The Stabilicers are a lot heavier than YakTrax which you can certainly feel while running, but the winter months are for training so that extra work to run will only make you faster come spring!
4. Hydrate: In those cold winter months it’s very easy to go on longer runs without any water. It feels as though the cold keeps more moisture in your body, but the opposite is actually true. In the winter months I almost always run with the same water bottle I use in the summer. My rule of thumb in the winter is 20 ounces of water for every hour of running. In the summer I double that amount if it’s about 80 degrees.
5. Lighting: In Boulder the sun sets close to 4:30PM this time of year and it can be depressing at times. I find myself running as much as I can during my lunch hours, but if i can’t get out midday I’ll usually run after work. Make sure you choose a headlamp lighting system that will keep you safe at night. I use a Petzl Tikka 2 that provides 40 lumens of LED lighting power. I find this to be sufficient for almost all trail runs I do. It’s affordable at $30.
The other part of lighting that is important to remember is reflective clothing. I run in my Asics running jacket and Pearl Izumi tights most nights and both have reflective paneling. This is critical for motorists to spot you. If you don’t have any reflective clothing, invest in some before you head out when the sun goes down.
Do you have any tips to share from your winter running adventures? Submit them in the comments or hit me up on Twitter, @RyanAmirault.