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Sports Medicine

3 Things to Consider for Cold Weather Running

By Rebecca Bennion

Jan 2, 2014

Winter 20Running

  1. Dressing Appropriately. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer outside than it really is. Following this rule means you will be slightly chilled when you start your run, but once you get moving and begin to generate sweat, you will be comfortable. Since you will still sweat while running in the cooler temperatures, it is important to dress in layers.
  • The layer of clothing closest to your body should be snug-fitting and sweat-wicking. Cotton layers hold moisture and keep you wet while synthetic clothing or layers made of polypropylene keep the sweat away from your body.
  • Your outer layer of clothing should be breathable while still protecting you from wind and precipitation. Nylon and Gore-Tex materials are ideal for your outer most layers since they will let out heat and prevent over-heating.
  • If a middle layer of clothing is needed, polar fleece material is a great option.

40% of your body heat is lost through your head and up to 30% of your body heat can be lost from your feet and hands. In order to stay warm, keep your head covered and your hands and feet protected. As stated above, you want to be sure the materials you are wearing are breathable and sweat-wicking. You can always remove these items if you get too cold, but you do not want to be stuck miles away from home without the proper attire.

  1. Staying Hydrated. Adequate fluid intake is something many runners neglect to consider when they run in cold winter temperatures. However, taking in enough fluids in cooler temperatures is just as important as it is in warmer temperatures. If dressed appropriately to protect your body, you will lose fluids through sweat. Cold air also has a drying effect which increases your risk of dehydration. Since many public drinking fountains are turned off during the freezing season, be prepared in advance with water or sports drinks to keep from becoming dehydrated.
  2. Being Visible. Unfortunately, the amount of daylight we receive during winter months is limited. If any amount of your run will be done during limited light hours, you’ll need to protect yourself with your clothing. A reflective vest makes a huge difference in how soon others on the road can see you. It is important to give others the opportunity to respond to your position on the road to keep everyone safe. A headlamp, flashlight, backlight, or any other illuminating object also helps keep you visible. Lights will aid you in seeing what is on the path in front of you, as well. Take your personal safety into your own hands and protect yourself.