Winter, the time when all you want to do is snuggle inside a blanket with a hot cup of coffee, is a big deterrent when it comes to any form of exercise for most people. But that’s not the case if running is an instinct you are born with. Hard core runners respond to this and cannot keep indoors just because of the weather isn’t favorable. They take it as an added challenge! Read on for ways to be comfortable while running outside in winters.
Dress in layers
Choose a polypropylene tee over a cotton one as the first layer. The former will wick the sweat unlike cotton which will absorb it and keep you wet. The outermost layer needs to be made of a breathable material like nylon or Gore-Tex that will serve the dual purpose of letting out heat and protect against wind and precipitation. Depending on how cold it is outside, you can add a polar fleece between the two for insulation. Do remember that you will generate heat as you run so if you are warm before the run, you will start to sweat early on which is harmful. It is advisable to dress as if the temperature outside is 20 degrees more than what it really is. This way the running heat will keep you warm for some time before you break into a sweat.
Hands and feet are important
Experts suggest that you lose almost 30% body heat through your hands and feet so you need to protect them accordingly. Running gloves that do not absorb sweat are ideal when it isn't too cold. On really cold days, mittens are ideal. Disposable heat packets can also be used inside the mittens. Similarly, for the feet, add a liner below the woolen socks. You might need shoes that are a size larger than usual to be comfortable with the thick socks. Try them prior to the run.
Protection for head
A covered head is very important while running in cold. According to the experts almost 40% body heat is lost through the head. A cap or a hat will keep the head warm by not allowing heat loss. In case its extra cold and the wind is also a factor, a face mask will be helpful. It will protect the face and also warm the air that you breathe in.
Right track and time
Winters are the best times to run indoors on the treadmill. However, if you insist on going out make sure that you choose a familiar track instead of experimenting with a new one. Ensure that it is free of snow or water or you can slip. Choose a time when it is light outside. For this, you might have to alter your regular timing and step out a bit late in winters. Carry your wallet or a little cash just in case you cannot do the whole route and wish to take a cab back. If you are running on the road, run opposite to the direction of traffic so on days with low visibility you have more control in case the driver cannot spot you.
Contrary to what you might think, you can get dehydrated while running in cold as well. When you run, the heat that you generate results in sweating and ultimately fluid loss. The cold air itself has a drying effect. All these can lead to dehydration. So you need to keep yourself hydrated by drinking water or any energy drink. Tuck in a small bottle of water somewhere in the running gear and consume it slowly during and after the run.
Post run, do not stay in wet clothes. Change into dry ones as soon as you can. The moment you stop running; the body's temperature starts dropping. In this condition, if you stay in wet clothes, you can catch a chill. It is a good idea to consume warm drinks afterwards.
These tips will help you with the basics of running in cold weather. However, if you have a medical condition, do check with your doctor before you start running. Some conditions can become worse in cold so it might be better to exercise on the tread mill.
Feature Image Source: Hugffington Post
This blog was first published in December 2015