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Top Five Tips for Running in the Cold of Winter

Top Five Tips for Running in the Cold of Winter

December 11, 2019

It's cold outside and you're toasty warm. All of your caveman instincts tell you keep your butt firmly planted on the couch. We say: Ignore them! Get outside! At the end of the day, the only thing that feels better than not going outside is going outside and coming in to warm up with hot shower. Plus, you get the feeling that you accomplished something and took care of your body….which you can then use to offset the damage you are sure to do at various holiday parties and dinners.

So, to make your winter runs more enjoyable, here are our top five tips.

1. Get Warmed Up Before You Go Out

One of the most miserable parts of winter running is that first freezing mile or two  before you warm up. For some, it's the extremities like toes and hands which, even with reasonable gear, just don’t get enough blood flow to warm up quickly. For others, they wear so much gear to stay warm at the beginning of the run that they are overheating by the end. This tip solves both problems and is the single best piece of advice we've got. Get fully warmed up before heading out. First, dress as if you are going to jump right into the middle of the run. Then, in your living room or garage, do your whatever warm up you prefer: lunges, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, etc. Anything that will raise your body temp and loosen you up. Keep going until you're just about to start sweating and then head out for your run. If you do this right, you will skip right past that awful, frigid part of the run and get right to the good stuff.

2. Have the Right Gear

You don't need to spend your way into enjoying a winter scamper. The amount of gear you need is pretty small and can serve you well both for many years and in many different activities. Here is what we recommend

  • Running Tights - For many of us at Switchlok, this is the most important piece of winter running gear. We like the Nike Pro Warm but there are many other options. Why tights and not pants? They don’t bounce or 'swish', the compression can help muscles stay healthy and they don’t get overly hot. We typically wear shorts over the top for the pockets and extra wind protection to sensitive parts. Bonus: you can use them as long underwear for skiing or other winter sports.
  • Thin gloves - While these are not entirely necessary (we often just pull our sleeves over our hands), they are generally inexpensive and can also be used for driving, hiking or just walking around. Tip: get a pair with touchscreen friendly fingertips.
  • Merino Wool Socks - Most running shoes are very breathable over the toes which is great in the summer but not so helpful come wintertime. Your toes will thank you for a nice pair of merino wool socks. You don’t have to buy the fancy running ones. We use standard Smartwool hiking socks which can also be used for (wait for it) hiking!

You can certainly go further and grab a thin vest, running jacket and hat but take it slow. There is probably have something in your closet that will work just fine.

3. Bring Music

Cold outside? Get some hot tunes to warm things up.  Even if you do everything else right--you chose the right day, dressed properly, warmed up beforehand and are on a trail--sometimes a winter run still stings. That hot shower, warm fire and steamy drink (perhaps with a splash of some adult beverage) beckons like the call of a siren. Take a lesson from Odysseus, the man most famous for defying sirens and plug your ears. Except you should use wireless headphones and not wax because an ear full of wax is disgusting. Music while running is awesome. Find something upbeat like latin or hip hop, whatever gets your mind in the right place and knock that run out. And if you're looking for a way to have your phone with you while you run, of course SwitchLok is your solution--it's even easy to use with gloves.

4. Find a Trail

Being out on a trail--away from cars, driveways and potentially icy sidewalks--is the place to be in the winter. While we might not all have this luxury of a full on wilderness trail, there are usually parks or pedestrian-only paths of which we can take advantage. And don’t let some snow top you. Unless it's slushy, just take it slow and enjoy the intense peace and quiet that a snowy trail provides. Bonus: it's a lot harder to chicken out and Uber it home when you're not on the street.

5. Watch the Weather (Avoid Wind)

The cold isn't your enemy, it's the wind. Unless it's absolutely arctic out there, you will warm up eventually (see tip #1) but if the wind is blowing, all bets are off. The best clothing for running is meant to be highly breathable and while modern technology has allowed for some fantastic materials, if air can get out, it can usually also get in. What this means is that all of those running clothes are helpless in the face of anything more than a gentle breeze. Generally speaking, ice cold winds make for miserable runs. So what to do? Choose your battles. Watch the weather and schedule your runs accordingly. Perhaps a certain time of day is more calm in your area or maybe you have to plan a little and pick the day in advance. Whatever you do, avoid the wind.

Winter can be a beautiful time to run and with a little preparation and some basic gear, we think everyone can enjoy it. Did we miss anything? Let us know at info@switchlok.com and thanks for reading.




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