Baby, it’s cold outside.
And, I don’t mean the kind of cold that means it’s time to snuggle up by a fire with a hot chocolate and a good book. I mean, the kind of cold that could keep you from getting your butt outside and getting that workout in!
Now, you could just as easily say, “to hell with it!” and workout indoors until the cold subsides, but what happens if you’ve truly grown to love the bright outdoors? What if you don’t want to give up that love affair you’ve developed with the pavement?
If you’re truly interested in maintaining that winter weather run outdoors, then I’ve got a few tips to help you survive.
Step 1: Join a gym.
My first tip is for you to become very intimate with layering. Just like we wear our undershirts, blouses, vests, and blazers to layer, so goes our moisture wicking shirt, our regular shirt, our fleece and our jacket. The moisture wicking shirt pulls the sweat away from your body, the two mid-layer shirts help keep you warm, and the outermost-jacket keeps you dry and protects you from the outer elements. When it comes to bottoms, think of compression gear that is not only moisture wicking, but also fleece on the inside. Those who wear thick, cotton tights may also consider wearing a pair of those underneath their compression bottoms.
Most runners will tell you that as long as their outer extremities – ears, neck, hands, feet – are covered, they can wear a tank top and shorts outside. That’s not untrue...for some. Most beginners won’t be that comfortable with the cold. Don’t be embarrassed to wear all the layers you need, and don’t feel weird if you need less.
You’ll also need to think practically about winter weather running shoes. While most running shoes are outfitted with mesh to help ventilate the shoe and let out the sweat and funk, that kind of set up could also unintentionally let the snow in. And, while you might think you could handle the extra sloshing around, you also have to remember that the snow is cold – it’s an extremely unpleasant feeling.
You could be a boss and just wrap your feet in Saran Wrap or plastic gallon bags like some runners do – WTH, btw? – or you could simply look for a running shoe that has a double mesh layer – something that lets out the sweat while also preventing the snow from getting in.
Also, look for shoes that are packing major league traction. Take that shoe and bend it, same as your foot bends when wearing it - the bottom of that shoe should have tons of hills and valleys to help you grip the trail better and avoid slipping. A shoe with little to no traction is a shoe that’s going to make you slide down the path instead of jog down it.
You’ll also need to think about colors. With colder temperatures often comes less hours of sunshine, so the likelihood of you running in the dark is higher. Brighter colors help protect both runners and drivers from unfortunate accidents, so think yes to neon – pink, yellow, orange – and no to all-black or all-gray. Looking like a ninja might be sexy, but it won’t get you anywhere if you can’t duck and dodge like one.
Moisturizers are your best friends. That cold weather can be biting, and it results in dry, cracked skin that chafes in the worst ways when you’re out there. A good, reliable lotion for the face, a lip balm, and something similar to baby oil or petroleum jelly for the inner thighs and any other places where skin might rub together will go a long way to protect against post-workout pain.
The most important tip is to stay motivated! It’s hard enough to get up and go to work in cold weather – getting out the front door will be a challenge in and of itself. Nevertheless, remember what your goals are – a new personal record? Training for a race? – and remember how important each individual run is to helping you get there. As I always say, your body – and your pace! – will thank you for it!
Erika Nicole Kendall is a trainer certified in women’s fitness, fitness nutrition and weight loss coaching who also chronicles her own 160lb weight loss journey on the award winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss. Hit her up on Twitter, or check her out on Facebook.