5 Ways to Make Winter Running Fun
These trail pictures were taken at Chain O'Lakes State Park, Albion Indiana, where the GE40 and IT 100 Trail Races are held.
Do you avoid running in the winter? You don’t have to. These tips will help make your winter running fun. If you are like me and want to avoid the “Dreadmill”, proper preparation will keep you outside and enjoying your run.
1. Adjust your training time and route
Winter running means less daylight and colder temperatures. Early morning or evening times are dark and the coldest. Whenever possible, adjust your running times accordingly. If you have a flexible work schedule, go in early or stay late and take a longer lunch break to get in your running during daylight and a warmer time of day. On the weekends, plan your runs for the warmest part of the day.
Plan your route and where you will park. You should plan your route with access to bathrooms and your car in mind. If you have to drive a little farther to train at a park with heated bathrooms, it is worth the drive. Use the bathrooms and your car like an aid station; as place to warm up and change clothes.Keep your out and back or loops short, this will give you more access to keep warm or if needed shorten your run. Another benefit will be for water refills to help avoid freezing, more on this in tip number 5.
2. Choose the proper clothing and gear
It is beneficial to dress in layers. Don’t dress too warmly, it doesn’t take long after you start sweating and your clothes get wet until you get cold. Pack extra clothes in your running vest and car and change as often as needed to stay dry and warm.
There are many articles about what hat shirt or jacket or pants to wear, I won’t go into details. The most helpful thing I have seen is What to Wear calculator.
3. Prevent falling, keep your feet protected and warm
Slipping on ice and falling down on ice is certainly no fun, however, it can be prevented with the right gear. Many people use spikes or screws. My preferred way is using sheet metal screws. I use Hex head sheet metal screws, size 8, 3/8” long. You can use a drill, put the screws in the lugs, and it only takes a few minutes to “screw your shoes”. The first time I ran with screws in my shoes, I was running on a sheet of ice and I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was.
A great way to keep your feet protected and warm is to use gaiters. The picture about is of my running partners and I at a recent event. Gaiters will keep the snow and any other debris out of your shoes, which in turn keeps your feet warmer.
Other tips for keeping your feet warm are wearing wool socks, and when it’s really cold, wear 2 layers, you can also put hand or foot warmers in your shoes.
4. Keep your head and face protected and warm
Keeping your head warm is very important, in addition to all the choices of hats and a hood on your running jacket, wearing a buff on your head is another alternative. The picture shows some ways to wear it.
Some ways to keep your face protected are wearing a buff around your neck and pulling up over your nose. In very cold, a balaclava is a life saver. Additionally, Ski Googles are great, they act as sunglasses and don’t fog up.
5. Keep your Hydration bladder or water bottle(s) from freezing
Having your hydration bladder, hose, or water bottles freeze is no fun. I learned about this the hard way and want you to avoid this problem.
Some things you can you do are:
- Use hose that is insulated
- After you take a drink, blow the water into the bladder
- Tuck it inside you’re your shirt
- Wear a jacket or other layer of clothing over your vest
- Add electrolytes or alcohol to lower the freezing point
- Fill your bladder or water bottle with room temperature or slightly warm water
Champions know there is no offseason, the offseason is the season. Don’t let winter stop your training and fun.
Follow these “5 Ways to Make Winter Running Fun” and go outside and enjoy your run!