Ahh, winter. Especially Northeast winters. And Midwest winters. Oh, you get it. It’s just super cold out and winter offers the perfect excuse to just stay at home, cuddling up by the fireplace with a nice cup of hot chocolate or a hot toddy.
Who really wants to venture out and brave the cold? Well, runners do! Runners look at the frigid winters like they’re a curse. Runners start feeling jittery and restless when they can’t get their weekly fix of a long, satisfying run. At OnlyAtoms, we don’t believe that you need to sacrifice your run during the winter; you just need the right gear, and to be more careful. Keep the following suggestions in mind when you go out on a run on a cold winter day:
Get Proper Winter Running Shoes & Socks
Your first priority is protecting your feet, and body, from falling on ice. First things first, keep your feet warm and get some proper cold weather running shoes ready for your winter time runs. During winter, your regular, breathable shoes with mesh are likely to let slush in and harm your feet. You need shoes with minimum amount of mesh to keep your feet warm and the slush out. The sole of warm weather shoes can also become stiff and uncomfortable in the winter. If you’re a trail runner or prepping for an ultramarathon during the winter, you might want to consider getting Gore-Tex winter running shoes and a pair of sheet metal screws (or hex screws) into the bottom of your running shoes - it works wonders for running on snow and ice. Just make sure you read these DIY instructions here so you don’t get a screw going into your foot in the middle of a icy trail run (like the FebApple Frozen 50 Run, by NJ Trail Series)! Also recommended is a few pairs of good, warm wool running socks like Smartwool. The wool running socks also tend to work best running in wet conditions and snow.
Best Winter Running Clothing
Now that you’ve made arrangements to keep your feet warm and happy, you need to focus on your body. During a run, your body temperature will go up and make you feel comfortably warm. But that doesn’t mean that you’re not losing heat. The best way to deal with running is to layer up. Do not wear cotton clothes. Purchase synthetics and polyester based performance clothes (like ours) and layer up. You should also protect your hands and head from the cold with mittens or gloves, a hat, and in extreme cold, a balaclava for your face. Or, as we like to call it, a "baklava" (hey, we like food and it's more fun to say). Yes, it looks super weird to run around in one of these, but they make for some fun run selfies and group photos.
Your clothing should be breathable and allow you to vent to avoid excessive sweating. We suggest dressing like the temperature is about 20°F warmer. At the beginning of your run, you should feel a little cold. Make sure that you cover up your body to prevent heat loss. You might also want to invest in vapor barrier underpants and windproof jackets.
Even seasoned runners never run without some sort of warm-up routine, even if it's just walking back and forth to the port-a-potty a lot! But warming-up before a run is especially important during the winter months. You can do light stretching, some leg swings, jogging, or even break out some yoga poses. You can even jog up and down some stairs a couple of times to get your body warm and comfortable. The idea is to warm up without sweating and prepare your body and muscles for what’s to come.
Change After Running
Your body temperature will drop freakishly fast after you’re done running. This is an automatic cooling mechanism but can lead to health problems if it’s not dealt with quickly. You realllyyyyy need to immediately get out of the cold and replace all of your run clothing, from sports bras to briefs. Don’t linger is sweaty clothes - especially if you're still hanging around outside in sub-30F temps with sweat getting cold! Let's just say this is not healthy and really damn cold. And, yes, we've had our running clothes freeze on us -- frostbite is fun.
Let’s be frank here, even the most determined runners falter in the face of plunging winter temperatures. You can get motivated by partnering up with a fellow runner (who's also dedicated to run year-round!). You can also join one of New York’s and Brooklyn’s many running groups and clubs. They’ll encourage you to run, even during the coldest of winter days. There are some that hold special winter events, too. Skiing as cross-training anyone?!