Tips to Enjoy Running in the Cold
Running in the cold weather can increase the risks of pain and injury. This is particularly the case if you find you’re more restricted to running on hard roads/pavements in the colder months because your usual trails are too muddy/boggy/snow-covered. You shouldn’t have to let the cold weather dissuade you from getting outside for a run, so here are some tips for running in the cold and looking after your body while you do so.
Warm up properly
Engaging in any type of vigorous physical activity be it running, skiing, snowboarding or other type of workout in colder weather conditions can make your joints and muscles more vulnerable to injury. Cold ligaments and tendons are tight and lack flexibility, leaving them open to tears and inflammation. Also when the mercury drops and your muscles have not yet been sufficiently activated, joint tissues expand, which restricts your mobility and can result in soreness following your run.
To warm yourself up properly before running in colder conditions, move around inside your house in order to get the blood flowing, then head out for a light jog (about five to ten minutes long); follow up with a set of stretches, some more exercises that go through the entire range of motions, before rounding out with some strides. Some of the best exercises to do to warm up your knee joints and the supporting muscles are squats; walking lunges, leg swings, and ‘ankle alphabets’.
Wrap up … but not too much
Wearing the right running clothes for the weather conditions will enable you to stay warm, comfortable and dry no matter how icy it is outside. That in turn will make your muscles and joints less prone to stiffness and pain. By the same token, you shouldn’t wear too many layers of clothes – as this will make you sweat, leaving you feeling chilled. Remember that as you start running your body will warm up anyway, so you don’t want to be too toasty before you even start your run. Better to feel a little chilly at the start of your run that boiling hot at the end of it. It’s a tough balance but experience helps you tune in to your local climate and what clothes are appropriate for the conditions.
Breathe warmer air
Once it gets cold, and I am talking see-your-breath cold, breathing gets harder too. Especially when you are running, because the cold air isn’t the most pleasant to breathe while you are running. But besides not being pleasant to take in, not getting enough oxygen to your body during runs can also hinder your performance and, more importantly, cause muscle cramps! Wearing a Buff around your neck and mouth while running in the cold really helps. You might look funny, but the warm layer will allow you to breath in a warmer and more humid air, which helps you breathe more easily.
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It doesn’t matter what the weather conditions – if you are out running, you will sweat and will need to replenish your body fluids. In fact, cold air tends to be dryer than warm air, which makes you even MORE prone to dehydration when out running in colder weather. Stay well hydrated throughout your run, and protect your body from having to work extra hard without the necessary hydration.
Run with the wind
When running when it is cold outside run INTO the wind at the start of your run, before finishing with a tail-wind. If you run with the wind during the early stages of your run, you will get very sweaty and hot, and then when you turn around the wind will feel very cold against your skin. Plus, this means you get to enjoy a tail-wind when you may be tiring at the end of your run.
Enjoy Cold weather running
By having an effective warm up, dressing appropriately and choosing a suitable route for your run, you can ensure your cold weather runs are still enjoyable and you are looking after your joints and muscles while you are out hitting the trails in the cold.