Winter Running: Survival Tips

January 2014

Colorado runners know that the weather will to continue to yo-yo for months (we do get snow in May sometimes). What to do on cold days? Art Ives, a Louisville-based running coach and founder of The Way of Running, passed along some tips for running during the chilliest season.

Work it: The body uses a lot of energy to generate heat, so even if you are clipping along a bit slower than normal, you are actually burning more calories than if it was warmer outside.  

Warm up: Your muscles take longer to loosen when it’s cold, so don’t jump right into your pace. Start with dynamic exercises like skipping, sidestepping, and arm circles but avoid abrupt movements. After a bit, transition to stretching. Ives recommends to “warm up and stretch like a cat” by moving your arms out slowly and shaking out your “paws.”

Slow down: Winter running is about maintenance and is not a time to work on speed (especially in icy conditions). Focus on building a strong base for spring. Bonus: Find out where to run during the winter months here.

Clothes matter: Experiment to find a clothing system that works for you to keep the core and extremities warm–jackets, running tights, hats, and gloves. Swap out cotton with tech fabrics, layer, and don’t forget to protect your face. You may feel foolish wearing goggles or a mask, but your skin and eyes will thank you. Bonus: Read more gear tips for winter running here.

Be flexible: Weather is likely to knock your training schedule around, and the long run you had planned for the weekend may not happen. It’s OK. Try to make it up later and enjoy the day off.

High noon: If possible, run in the middle of the day when the temperature is warmer.

Don't stay outside: Your body temperature will drop quickly, so as soon as you are done running, get back in your car or house. Ives recommends a hot shower or bath to stay warm and says that stretching can be done before or after bathing.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock