If you live in a cold climate, chances are you will deal with training in the snow and frigid temperatures at least a few times this winter. These conditions are tricky, but if you take a few precautions, dress appropriately and have a good, flexible attitude, you can still get your training in when there's snow on the ground and temperatures are below freezing. After five years of living and training in New York City, I figured out how to run (and stay motivated) in the winter:
Keep your hands and feet warm. Wear gloves that wick away moisture. Mittens are a good choice on really cold days, because they allow your fingers to share their body heat. Whether you go for gloves or mittens, we recommend using hand warmers inside them. As for your feet, wear a thin sock liner under your socks to keep your feet nice and toasty. Go for running socks made of wool, like SmartWool products, because it pulls away moisture. Remember: If your feet and hands are cold, the rest of you will be cold!
Cover your head. You lose a lot of body heat through your head, so wear a hat to stay warm. If it's snowing, wear a brimmed hat to keep the snow out of your face, along with a beanie underneath for extra warmth.
Wear trail sneakers. They have more traction and are usually more waterproof than regular sneakers, making them a good investment if you have to run on snow a lot. Plus, you have an excuse to get off the pavement and onto the dirt come springtime!
Check temperature and wind chill. If the wind is strong, it will penetrate your clothes and cut through the insulating layer of warm air around you. So if the temperature is below zero or the wind chill is below -20, opt for the treadmill.
[Read: How to Exercise in Cold Weather.]
Dress appropriately. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer than it really is. You'll warm up within 10 minutes of running, so if you're already warm when you start, you'll begin to sweat early in your run. I like a good long sleeve base layer, like Lululemon's Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve, below a mid-layer fleece and a jacket.
Slow down. Expect your pace to be 30 to 60 seconds slower when it's snowing or when there's snow or ice on the ground. Giving yourself those extra seconds will ward off potential injuries. If you're training and need a speed session, use the treadmill or find a section of road or sidewalk that's relatively clear.
Winter running is fun and challenging. Remember these tips and precautions, and come spring, you'll be stronger and ready to crush your race goals.
Meghan Reynolds, a USATF-Certified Running Coach, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor, is a runner, yogi and fitness enthusiast. After working in the business world for years, she decided to make fitness a full time job and founded Hot Bird Running, a run coaching business, in May 2011. She has run 11 marathons, numerous half marathons and sprint triathlons. In addition to coaching runners, Meghan is a yoga instructor. She received her 200-hour level certification in 2004. Her yoga teachings focus on alignment and creating space in the body, which she finds vital for runners and athletes whose repetitive motions create blocks and stress in the body. Meghan credits her running accomplishments over the last 6 years to her dedication to cross-training, yoga and allowing herself and her body to recover properly after her rigorous running schedules. Find her on Twitter and Google+.