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I was asked by Megan to share with all of you my secrets for cold weather running. Growing up in Ohio and now living in Connecticut, I think I know a thing or two about this topic! I am, however, going to make this post a little more broad and focus on cold weather training, regardless of the activity (running, cycling, snow shoeing, etc.) because I think the same principals apply regardless of how you choose to stay fit.
Many of you probably aren’t familiar with me, but I love lists. I think lists make things easy to follow, so I’m going to share my strategies for cold weather training in list form.
1) LAYERS - This is my #1 recommendation. I think all too often we try to figure out exactly the “right” thing to wear, making guesses about the weather and our bodies. Unfortunately this leads you to either be too hot or too cold at some point during your workout. Wearing layers allows your body to naturally adjust to the weather, plus it frees you up from worrying about picking the perfect clothes for that day/temp/weather.
-Personally I like to wear a tight base layer, which will wick away the moisture, without adding much bulk (ex: underarmour heat gear tank or short sleeve compression top).
-Find top layers that are loose fitting and made of a material you can easily tie around your waist, stick in your jacket or jersey pocket, etc. And make sure you know your plan for what to do with an item once it is removed, BEFORE you begin.
-Layering also applies to hands and feet. Feel free to wear multiple pairs of socks or gloves, but again make sure your tightest/form fitting material is underneath with your bulkier/warmer option on top.
-I also am a huge fan of clothing with built in thumbholes or hoodies. Both work great for any cold weather activity. Thumbholes allow you to avoid bunch up or bare skin at the wrist. You can also wear your gloves under or over, depending on your activity. Similarly hoodies keep your neck protected and easily fit under a helmet or hat. In the end, both make layering easier and more convenient.
2) Cover your head! All too often we forget that something like 80 or 90% of our body heat escapes through our heads. I see people all the time wearing things that cover their ears or face, but they completely forget about the top of their heads. You won’t feel your head getting cold, especially if you have a lot of hair, like you will your ears and other body parts, but it is essential to keep that heat in as the temperatures dip. This is less an issue of comfort and more an issue of general health for your body, in my opinion.
-Here is a personal favorite of mine from Target. It’s cheap, thin material AND has a ponytail hole built in!
3) Windproofing. Depending on where you live, the wind can play a big factor in your outdoor training. To protect against that bitter winter wind, I suggest getting a wind stopping jacket, vest or my personal favorite, a jacket with removable arms! I recommend one that is lightweight and big enough to put layers underneath. This way you can wear it on top of any clothing you choose to wear that day. As you warm up, remove your underneath layers, keeping the wind proof material on top.
4) Dollar Gloves. I’m guessing you all know what I am referring to here. These are the cheap, stretchy gloves you can find just about anywhere. I think they are a must have for anyone, whether you live in a cold weather area or not. These cheap gloves come in every color under the sun, are easy to replace if lost and work great when you don’t want a lot of bulk (aka when you are working out and sweaty).
5) Keep your feet warm and safe from elements. This can mean a variety of things such as:
-waterproof shoes or boots
-water and/or windproof socks
-toe warmers (hot hands)
6) Warmup and Cool Down. This is another area I think we tend to forget about, but it becomes even more critical in cold weather. If you want to remain injury free, this is one of my biggest pieces of advice for you. Yes, you can get away with skipping during warmer months, but as the cold weather approaches it will take longer and more effort to get your muscles “warm.” If they are not properly warmed up, there is greater risk of injury all around, so as Nike would say “just do it!”
7) Protect your skin. First, if it is below freezing out, make sure all exposed skin is covered. Otherwise you put yourself at risk for frostbite. No, you may not feel like it’s that cold, but do you really want to take the risk? I didn’t think so J Also, it is important to remember to still wear sunscreen (pick a sweat proof variety to make sure it stays on). You may think you do not need it in the winter when it is cold out, but the sun’s ray can still reach your skin. Particularly if you are skiing or any other activity around snow, as the snow will reflect the sun’s rays onto you, causing you to easily burn.
8) Hydrate. This is another easily forgotten step, but just as important as the others. Your body is still losing the same about of fluid as it was in the hot summer months when you are exercising. Just like when you swim in a pool of water, you may not feel the need to drink, but it is vital you do. Just remember, regardless of the temperature outside, you can still get dehydrated!
That sums up my 8 cold weather training musts. So for those of you who like to spend the winter months training outdoors, what did I miss? Feel free to leave additional suggestions in the comment section below. AND if you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out my blog at http://crystalfun2race.wordpress.com!