Old Man Winter has arrived! -Days are shorter - Temperatures are plunging.
Early morning or evening outdoor workouts are during the coldest parts of the day. There is good news though. You don't have to give up those outside sweat sessions due to the bone-chilling temperatures according to Susan Paul, exercise physiologist and program director for the Orlando Track Shack Foundation. It’s generally safe to work out outdoors until the thermometer hits a freezing 20 degrees below zero. Of course you need to be properly outfitted. Nor as a beginner would you want to start training for your first 10K during the dead cold of winter.
If you follow these simple cold weather workout rules you will minimize injuries and boost your performance.
Layers -- Wear layers of moisture-wicking (dry-fit) fabrics that will keep you warm and dry. I usually wear 2 layers of bottoms -- Nike running pants and my favorite pair of Yoga pants. I like to wear at least 3 tops -- a dry-fit tank top, one thin long sleeved shirt and another thicker turtle neck, Under Armour makes a great one. I also add a jacket that is easily removable. When I first start out running I'm pretty cold, but once I get to full intensity my body warms up pretty quickly and I shed the outer jacket and tie it around my waist.
Cover your mouth - wear a face mask or scarf wrapped around your nose and mouth -- this will help heat and moisturize the air before it hits your lungs.
Protect your extremities
gloves, mittens, wool socks, headband and a snug-fitting hat.
Socks - This is probably the hardest one for me. My feet get cold very easily, so I like to wear layers of thick socks. This is hard to do when you go running because there is only so much room in your running shoe. So, I choose a dry-fit thin hiking sock for my first layer. For my second layer, Nike makes a dry fit running sock that keeps my foot pretty warm.
Gloves - You have many choices in gloves. I usually wear a thinner glove when it's not as cold - like the gloves on the right. But when the temperature dips lower, and the wind picks up, I reach for a thicker pair - like the ones pictured below. Also the gloves below have the touch fingers which allow me to use my iPhone while running, a definite plus.
Take it Easy - It's better to run long and easy when the temperatures are frigid then a speed workout. This is not the time break your distance record or beat your best time.
Warm Up - Since it will take more time in the cold weather, allow your body to warm up thoroughly to avoid the risk of injury.
Remember winter running is about maintaining miles not the speed. If you are running longer distances you can break your runs up to avoid being in the cold too long. After your run make sure you avoid the post-run chills by getting out of your sweaty clothes and drink something warm.