Running in the cold can be very challenging because the body is not easily adapted to cold. Some of the challenges you are likely to face in the cold include icy roads, freezing temperatures, dark courses, stiff joints, tightened muscles, and wind chill. Despite these challenges, you don’t have to stop your regular running, but you should prepare adequately.
When preparing, you should strive to achieve a balance in the ways you have chosen to keep warm when you are running. When you make every attempt to be warm during the cold, you should avoid excesses that will lead to overheating or discomforts.
The Suitable Wears for Running in the Cold
Wearing the necessary sets of clothing for running in the winter is the key to comfort in the cold. You will need unique wears for running to prevent you from frostbites and injuries.
When choosing wears for running in cold, you should remember that keeping yourself warm is a gradual process. So, you should wear proper cloth that will prevent excessive heat.
The basic running wears for cold includes:
1. A hat
It is advisable to keep your head covered when running in the cold to achieve an overall effect of warmness. You might want to go for a simple headband instead of a hat, or you wear a thick earmuff that you can easily keep in your pocket when you attain warmth.
2. Medium-weight base shirts in layers
You should wear appropriate shirts in layers. Layering is a significant dressing pattern in the cold. It is majorly wearing different layers of clothes that will keep you insulated. It helps to control the temperature from the inside, and it provides air around each layer of your cloth. Layering differs based on temperature.
- You should have the wicking base layer closest to your body. Usually, these clothes are synthetic such as Silk, Thermax, Coolmax, Dryfit, or Polypropylene made to keep you warm and dry. Wearing cotton on this first layer is not good because cotton absorbs sweat which can make you uncomfortable. When the weather is above 40°F it is advisable to wear a long-sleeve for this wicking layer.
- Next to this is the insulating layer which is your middle wear. This is very important for low temperature cold. The reason for the insulating layer is to maintain a balance of warm and to avoid heat. Fleece is a common material for making the insulating layer wear.
- The last layer necessary, for a runner, during the cold is a windproof outer layer. This will protect you against moisture and the wind. It is made of materials such as Nylon, Supplex, ClimaFit, and WindStopper to allow moisture escape from the body. An example of the last layer is a running jacket that has a zip to regulate temperature when running. This outer layer can be left out if it is not too cold.
3. Running tights or pants
You can wear running tights made of synthetic materials or silk. However, where the temperature is very low (below 10°F) you can wear layered tights. The first running tight will be a wicking one while the second, will be windproof such as track pants.
4. Running gloves
It is good to wear gloves or mittens while running to avoid freezing fingers. The gloves must be strong and well insulated to protect your hand.
5. Wool socks
Your socks are as important as your shoes. To enjoy running in the cold, you cannot do without socks because it will keep your feet warm and dry. It is best to go for high and thick socks that will cover all the gaps that might allow cold. When you want to buy running socks for cold, you should get socks made of merino wool.
6. Neck bandanna
Pulling the bandanna over your mouth will the air you are breathing warm, especially at the beginning of your race. It is important on windy days to keep your face and neck safe.
7. Running shoes
Running shoes vary for seasons. You should wear shoes with traction during the cold, especially when you are running on snow. Consider the weather protection of the shoe, traction ventilation, visibility, warmth and comfort before you get your shoe for running in the cold.
Your shoe must have a good grip during cold to prevent you from falling and injuries. You should also check the protecting material of the shoe to know if it is a water-resistant shoe or water-proof shoe. When you choose a water-proof running shoe, you should ensure it has a breathable membrane that will allow ventilation.
Considering the beauty of your running shoe is the least important factor. It is not the beauty of the shoe that will give you the necessary comfort but the puddles inside the shoe. No oversized or undersized shoe. Fitness and comfort should be considered before the beauty of a running shoe.
Running Injuries in the Cold and Prevention
Running in cold can be dangerous. Runners are prone to muscle, tendons, bones and general health injuries because of the tightness of the joints and muscles and nature of roads during the cold. The recurrent injury in the cold is muscle and tendon tears that are a result of metatarsal stress fractures, Achilles tendon tendonitis, stress injury to tibia and shivering. To avoid these injuries, a runner should do the following:
- Keep the knee, muscle, and feet warm by wearing insulated and body covering clothes.
- You should always use a trail shoe to maintain traction and avoid injury.
- You should never miss his post-run routines. You should engage in strength and mobility routines rather than going to bed immediately after the race.
- You should focus on warm-up in a warm location before you commence running. To effectively do this, you can engage some stretches, take a hot shower, and take a walk on a treadmill or around the house.
- You should always stay fueled and hydrated. When you maintain a balance in hydration, it reduces the high risk of breathing difficulties and hypothermia associated with cold.
To avoid dehydration, experts advise that 25 to 30 minutes before the run, a runner should take at least 7 to 8 ounces of fluid. A runner should also take 8 to 10 ounces about every 20 to 25 minutes intermittently while running and around 8 to 10 ounces 30minutes after the run.
Also, you can monitor your hydration level through a urine check. Dark yellow urine means a runner is not sufficiently hydrated and needs to drink more water.
Food Consumption for Running in the Cold
Even though most runners don’t pay attention to what they eat, food consumption goes a long way to influence body metabolism during cold. Excellent nutrition during cold regulates your body temperature and fuels your muscles to work. It is necessary to eat well during cold as a runner because the body does the work of generating temperature, unlike the warm season where warmth is easily generated from external sources.
The foods suitable for consumption in the cold season are complex carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, cereals, potatoes, peanut butter, soups, chili, brown rice, sorghum, quinoa, and oats. A runner can also take low-fat cheese, energy bars, trail mix, chocolate bars, lean meat, sandwiches or bananas. The consumption of the carbohydrate shouldn’t be too close to the time for running, but around 2 hours before the race.
The following are highly recommended for a runner in the cold:
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Eating hot or warm food.
- Eating a variety of complex carbohydrates.
- Avoidance or decrease in caffeine intake.
- Total avoidance of alcohol. This is because alcohol increases heat loss through the dilation of the blood vessels.
- Plans for emergency food such as small snacks.
Benefits of Running in the Cold
A lot of people can easily choose to stay at home during the cold but it is very good if you look over challenges and run because running in the cold has some benefits such as;
1. Burning off more calories
Our body does extra work to keep warm during cold because of the extra fuel needed. As a result of this process, calories are easily burned in the body.
2. Improvement in physical endurance
Running in the cold might be difficult at first but improves your endurance once you get used to it. Your body will adapt to various environmental conditions quickly and push for better conditions where there is a need for it.
3. Increase in heart strength
Due to the extra work the heart is doing to pump and distribute blood, the heart gets stronger and the cardiovascular endurance of the heart is improved.
4. Increase in mental strength
By continually challenging yourself not to stay indoors during cold, you are improving your mental strength and endurance. If you can surpass the difficulties of cold and continue running, the process of motivating yourself to run in the cold will build and strengthen your mental capacity for tough situations.
To perfectly enjoy running in the cold, you must specially prepare for it. It may be difficult but once you start running, you will feel better because you have overcome the challenges. Running in the cold helps to improve your overall performance as a runner.
To enjoy running in the cold, you must not joke with proper dressing. You should keep yourself dry and warm by wearing hand gloves, hats, socks, suitable running shoes, and layered clothing. Cold is no excuse for you if you want to be a consistent runner. Just make sure you are ready and start without hesitating.