I have made the decision to *not* run this winter. I know that probably isn’t the info you’re looking for! But I found myself cringing at the thought of bundling up and fighting the elements and feeling my molecules seize up at the attack from the cold and wind. Instead, I’m spending more time drinking tea and making art. I know I’ll be flabby come spring, but it’s really nice to have a season without the “shoulds” on my mind.
So if you’re reading this and are thinking that you’re in need of a sabbatical from running, check out my post about that here.
But if you want some tips about how to stay warm and safe, continue!
Tips for running in the winter
- Try to run in the warmest part of the day. I know this sounds simple, but really make a point to look at the hourly forecast. An extra 5 degrees makes a huge difference.
- Shorten your runs and lower your expectations. Since winter is mostly “off season” for a lot of runners, it’s a good time to just listen to your bod and let each run be what it is. If it’s balmy and 38 and you’re in a great place and the sidewalks are clear and you feel great, then keep going. If you intend to do a longer run and get out there and the wind is biting at your face and you’re bitter and sad, fuck it, go home!
- Wear the right gear and invest in good stuff if you can. I bought a pair of Gore brand running pants a few years ago and they were a game changer. They’re fairly lightweight, but have a wind block and insulation, so you get everything you need in a winter pant in just one layer. I also have a jacket by them that is my go-to when temps are below 35.
- Wool is your bff, so whenever you see merino wool gear on the cheap, grab it. I have a fantastic Eileen Fisher long sleeve wool shirt that I grabbed at Goodwill for 5 bucks. It’s a perfect cozy layer. I also love Icebreaker clothes, and have socks, a bra, and a long sleeve layer that’s great. Silk is a great wicker, and can be found in thrift stores as well!
- My go-to for, say, a 30 degree run: hat, neckwarmer, wool base layer, a second layer (long sleeve race shirt is fine, or a very lightweight fleece) Gore jacket, medium weight gloves, Gore pants, Icebreaker socks, and depending on the condition of the roads, anything from road shoes to trail shoes to Ice Bugs. Also a hat of some sort, one that can pull over my ears.
- Remember that visibility can be tough in the afternoon in the winter. Tuck a headlamp in your pocket and any other reflective gear you might have, like a lightweight vest. You definitely don’t want to be miles from home when the sun suddenly goes down at 4pm!
- Fill your water bottle with room temp water. The air will cool it enough. If you’re going to be out for a long time, watch out if you take a hydration vest, because the water in the tube can freeze! An easy trick is to keep your liquids close to your body. I like to tuck a handheld in the back of my pants. It doesn’t look pretty, but it does the job. Remember to hydrate as much as you do in the summer! You will be sweating, so you’ll need to replenish.
- Pack soft fuel. Bars will get crunchy and difficult to bite if they get too cold. Don’t want to break a tooth out there! So go for things that are a little softer, like dates and raisins. Gu is good too, but I personally can’t fuel with them because I’m too sensitive to the sugars and get … weird.
- Also tuck a few bucks in your jacket. I like to help people out when I’m out on my run and put a little bit of money in the hands of people who are in need. It’s also nice to have some money in case I want to stop for a shot of espresso somewhere!