How To Fall In Love With Winter Running

Hey readers, thanks for having me over here at Lean Girls Club! My name is Megan–I run a blog called Run Like a Grl and also blog over at Cal-EZ. And I’m here to talk a little bit about winter running. For some, just seeing those two words next to each other in a sentence sends a chill down their spine. Yet, others love the quiet and the coolness of hitting the pavement outside during the winter…but how do these people do it?! Winter can be cold, windy, and dark, but that doesn’t mean you have to hide out indoors on the treadmill. There are ways you, too, can learn to love this cold time of year, and I’m here to try to convince you that the winter is one of the best times of year to run outside!

run like a grl

You Can Be Queen of the Pavement
It’s quiet in the winter and there aren’t as many people out running, walking, or cycling along your path compared to the summer. For those of you like me who live in a city, that means less tourists along those scenic routes you usually can’t even run down during the tourist season. Think of winter as an opportunity for you to hit the pavement when the world is much slower and calm. Enjoy the quiet. Now, throw in a few snowflakes and it’s like running in a magical wonderland. Some of my favorite runs ever have been in the snow–it’s so peaceful and beautiful!

The Gear is Awesome
I absolutely love running clothes and have almost half a closet filled with athletic gear. So running in the winter gives me a chance to wear so many of my fun clothes! But even if you aren’t a fitness clothing hoarder like me or are obsessed with long-sleeves with thumbholes, you really need just a few good items in order to run in the winter. My main take-aways: do not wear cotton (moisture-wicking clothing such as this Athleta Superluxe Half Zip only, especially in the winter!) and layer, layer, layer. You can always remove clothing along the way, but make sure you have enough layers to keep you warm enough even as your body starts to heat up. When running in the winter, be sure to select brightly-colored clothing with reflective features for safety so you can be seen in the dark mornings/evening (note: don’t dress like a ninja). Also, keep your extremities and head covered and warm–get a hat and a good pair of running gloves. They’ll keep you warmer than anything else!

Warm-up Indoors
Definitely don’t skip your warm-up in the winter! Before going outdoors, focus on dynamic stretches and a few high intensity activities (e.g. high knees, jumping jacks) to warm up your body and get the blood flowing in your muscles. Cold muscles are more easily injured, so get yours loose indoors before stepping outside into the cold. Then, get going right away on your run and enjoy!

You May Run Faster in the Winter
On a cold (yet not frigid) day with no snow or ice on the ground to slow you down, you may notice you actually finish your run faster than you do when it’s warm out. I also find my muscles don’t feel as achy (maybe the cold acts as an ice pack!?). Now, this may not be the case for extreme temperatures like those below 15 degrees, but for a nice 30 degree winter day you may be a faster version of you. So if you’re aiming for that PR, sign up for a short winter race!

Post-run Cool-down is Best in the Winter
There’s nothing quite like coming inside after a cold run, changing out of your clothes (always change quickly to avoid getting sick), stretching, and hopping in a warm shower. I love drinking a warm drink and curling up on the couch when I’m all clean and dressed, and feeling great about being a hard core winter runner. Really, there’s not many more feelings that are more satisfying than that.

Megan Run Like A Grl

Repeat After Me – YOU Are a Badass
Whenever I run in the winter, like that time I ran 8 miles in -4 degree weather, I get some odd looks from people in their cars passing by. I imagine they think I’m partially crazy and the other half of them is thinking “Wow, look at her – you go girl that’s amazing.” And it is. The cold scares most people so they don’t even leave their house, but you’re prepared and ready so you got this! Before, during, and after your run, remember to revel in the fact that you are a total badass runner.

Enjoy Sweating Less
If you hate sweating and chafing and sweat dripping in unmentionable places as much as I do, then winter running is your secret spirit animal. Overall, you’re going to sweat less in the winter and for the little you do sweat, good moisture wicking clothing will quickly wick it right off so you stay comfortable!

Now that you hopefully are excited about winter running, here are 5 quick tips and reminders for winter running success:

1. Run out against the wind and end your run with the wind at your back.

2. Enlist the help of running buddies to help you stay committed to your runs. When you’re meeting someone, you’re less likely to back out.

3. Lay out all your layers before your run. There’s a lot more clothes to put on in the winter, so have everything ready beforehand so that you don’t lose your motivation as you get dressed!

4. Make sure your room is warm when you wake up for your run (but not TOO perfect of a temperature). If it’s cold, you’re likely to just stay bundled in your blankets!

5. Don’t forget your liquids in the cold. You may not be as thirsty as you are in the summer, but you have to be sure to drink water–your body still needs it! Dehydration is a big risk with winter running. You should also want make sure you get enough vitamin D since you won’t be getting the same vitamin and sun exposure in the winter. Personally, I add a tasteless calcium and vitamin D supplement powder to my water bottle each day.

What helps you get out there and run in the winter? Share your tips with us in the comments!

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  • Sasha Gray

    Awesome post! It is definitely difficult keeping up my summer work out schedule in the winter months. Have you ever been to the Equinox Fitness Club? I’m deciding on working out there.