Yay you if you made it this far! For many, winter + running outside = nope. And the idea of becoming a runner during the winter months? That’s a HARD pass.
But what if you were open to the idea that you could both run AND not be miserable throughout the winter season? What would it be like to show up to spring temps with a solid running base ready to take on more miles with ease? OR to just kick off the spring season fit from a winter of activity?
Before I start trying to convince you that running comfortably outside in the winter is a thing that you can do, let’s look at the most common reason people give for avoiding outdoor activity once the temperatures drop:
“It’s too cold.”
Makes sense, right? Being cold is no fun! I moved from New England to Atlanta 10+ years ago, and my Cold Weather Intolerance Conversion is complete. I am now someone who wears a ¾ length down coat when it’s 50 degrees. (I’m pretty sure this would’ve gotten me kicked out of Connecticut.) All this to say - I get it. I am also not a fan of being cold! So, what gets me out the door when the temps start dropping?
Winter Running WHYs
Limiting ourselves to ideal conditions is limiting. Some of my greatest wins, mentally and physically, have come by getting out there in all weather. I never would’ve experienced these wins had I taken my winter runs to the treadmil. So, while there’s a whole lotta great happening if you’re running year-round thanks to that indoor device, discover what’s possible when you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Literally.
Running in the winter is a chance to edit your self talk. We all have our stories and self-talk; it’s really only a matter of where it falls on the spectrum of positive to negative. When we get out there and challenge a long held belief around what we “can’t, won’t, or don’t” do, we create an opportunity to change how we see and talk about ourselves. We have the chance to discover that we can, will, and do, and declare, ‘I just did that!’ Edit your story.
Connect with nature. I’ve been on many runs where I’ve gasped at sights witnessed on an outdoor run - a fantastic sunrise, a vibrant cardinal flying by, a dog in a stroller...These are things you just won’t experience on a treadmill, and with every season, there are new sights to behold. Discover them.
Boost performance. Anyone who runs outside year round can attest - running in the winter is easier than in the summer. Why? Heat and humidity are depleting. Our bodies have to work much harder in the summer to regulate body temperature. Winter is the equivalent of working smarter, not harder. Seize this opportunity.
Winter gear has come a long way. We now have running gear designed for winter temps and weather that doesn’t leave us looking like Joey from Friends (“Could I be wearing any more clothes?”) With just a few, thin strategic layers I can be completely comfortable throughout a run in 30 degrees. You can, too. Invest in proper gear.
No membership or subscriptions required. Just open the door and go!
You’ve made it this far - yay!
Winter Running Tips
- Dress for 10 degrees warmer than the current temperature. You know how there’s the actual temperature and the ‘feels like’ temperature? Running creates a ‘feels like’ temperature of about 10 degrees warmer than what it is. Often we step out the door and dress for that moment, or worse, decide, ‘Nope!’ Instead, look up the temperature and dress for 10 degrees warmer.
- Tend to the extremities. Ever notice the elites who look like they’re running in bathing suits, yet have on hats and gloves? It’s kind of amazing how much you can regulate your comfort by taking care of your hands and ears. And when it’s not quite cold enough for a hat, but the ears need some attention - running headbands give you the best of both worlds.
- Start early. It seems like a crazy idea to run earlier in the morning when the temperatures are even lower, but if wind is in the forecast, early mornings often provide a stillness that you don’t get later in the day.
- Warm up before heading out. All of your runs should include some kind of dynamic movement warm up. This routine preps the body for exercise, and you get a jump start on being comfortable on your run. The following is one of many examples out there.
I recently attended a weekend workshop for running coaches and a fellow coach shared this nugget:
“There is no inappropriate weather, only inappropriate gear.”
Couldn’t agree more. Layer up and go get that winter run on!
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– JEANNE TORRE, LCSW, NBC-HWC
Health Advisor, Level II RRCA Running Coac