Running Outside in the Winter

Running Outside in the Winter

Tips on Running and Gear

Well it certainly has not been much of a typical winter here in Chicago……we have been fortunate to have almost no snow (barely an inch) and warm days. If you run in the late morning or afternoon you have been able to get away with very minimal clothing in the warmer temperatures. Inevitably we will be hit with some very cold, windy and snowy days before winter leaves us. I absolutely HATE to be COLD!! I used to be a wimp, not running outside when the temperatures dropped. But there is nothing like getting fresh air mixed with the peacefulness of running in the winter. It takes some planning and the right cold weather gear …and then you are set!

7 Winter Running Tips
SWEAT You don’t realize how much you are really sweating when you run outside in the cold. When you have a few layers on- the sweat will often evaporate during your run, especially with low humidity and the wind. High tech fabrics help to keep us warm and dry, but you may not realize how much you have sweated, because it’s not running down your legs. Make sure that you stay hydrated. On runs longer than 1 hour, you may not feel “thirsty”…but keep hydrated. If you do not drink during your run then make sure you drink after. For more about what to drink and staying hydrated check out my article:
THERMOSTAT Everyone has a different thermostat. Figuring out what to wear for different weather conditions may take a bit of trial and error. You always want to start out so you are pretty cold before you run. Between 8 and 15 minutes you should be warmed up and feel comfortable. If you are doing a run of longer than 1 hour, you will continue to get warm. If you are doing a faster tempo run then you will be warmer than a slower run.
WIND I always look at which direction the wind is coming from- if the wind is greater than 10mph- it will be a factor running…not just slowing you down but affecting your body temp. If you know the wind usually comes from one direction, like the North, then try to run East/West for the majority of the run. Try to avoid running for an extended period into the wind. If you have to run into the wind- then it is better to so in the beginning when your sweat is minimal. Running into the wind for the last part of your run (when you are sweaty) can make you really cold. If you have to run into the wind then I suggest doing a lot of zig –zagging every block or two, to minimize the extended distance of a head wind.
SNOW can be ok if it’s not too slippery. Choose to run on extra wide streets that have been plowed and salted (run opposite of traffic). My winter routes are really boring….but I know the streets I can run on safely. These streets are wide, well lit and clear. If there is a lot of snow, you can wear trail shoes with gortex or the slip on grippers that go over your shoes.
LAYERING helps keep the heat in. When it’s 15 degrees or colder out, I layer a pair of light weight (unpadded) biker shorts under my tights- this really helps to keep the glutes warm!
SAFETY is important, especially when you are running in the dark. Choose routes that are well lit if possible. Wear clothing that has reflective details and use a headlamp.
TREADMILL When conditions are too extreme to run outside, then hit the treadmill. Use your winter treadmill runs as an opportunity for you to do intervals or speed workouts that you could not do outside in the winter. This is a great way to improve your fitness and help with the boredom of the treadmill.



Karen Redmond received her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and a Masters Degree of Science in Health and Fitness Promotion from Marymount University. She has been working in the health and fitness field for 20 years. She is a Master CHEK Practitioner and Holistic Health and Lifestyle Coach. Currently she is studying with Guy Voyer, D.O. studying Osteopathy in the Soma Training and Soma Therapy and ELDOA Programs. Karen is the owner of North Shore Smart Bodies located in Northbrook, Illinois. Specializing in corrective exercise, holistic lifestyle and nutrition coaching, she sees a wide range of clients including those with orthopedic injuries and back pain. Karen enjoys working with runners and endurance athletes of all levels and all distances. She does blood lactate threshold testing, gait analysis and a musculoskeletal evaluation on all clients. Karen then develops a customized program with myofascial stretching, ELDOAS, stability and strength training. She also works with pre/post natal clients, golfers and other athletes. Karen is a competitive runner and enjoys racing distances from 5k to half marathons.

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