Seven Important Winter Running Tips | MedStar Health

Seven Important Winter Running Tips

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Don’t let the cold weather and snow stop you from going running during the winter. To be prepared, there are several things you can do and consider before putting on your running shoes and stepping out in the frigid weather. Check out these seven Winter Running Tips by Rebecca Huesman PT, DPT, one of a  rehabilitation specialist with MedStar Health Physical Therapy at Federal Hill in Baltimore. To learn more about Rebecca and our outpatient site at Federal Hill, please visit:

  1. Monitor the weather. Weather conditions can vary greatly during the winter months. Factors such as wind chill and precipitation can make a frigid day feel 10 degrees colder. Monitor the weather forecast a few days in advance. This will allow you to modify your training calendar if needed so that a surprise two-foot snowstorm won’t push your 18-mile training run inside to the treadmill.

  2. Dress for the conditions. Each runner is unique in how many layers are needed to run comfortably at a given temperature. For the coldest runs, you may need up to three top layers. These include a moisture-wicking base layer, a thermal mid-layer, and a water-resistant top layer. Keeping your legs warm may take up to two layers, a base layer as well as a water-resistant outer layer. Be cautious to not over-dress for the weather. Your muscles will generate heat throughout your run.

  3. Warm-up. Complete a dynamic warm-up at home before even heading out the door. This will prepare your heart, lungs, and muscles for exercise. Additionally, you will reduce your chance of over-heating through over-dressing by warming up inside first. A dynamic warm-up should take approximately 8-10 minutes to complete and can include activities such as jumping jacks, planks, butt kickers, high knees, and walking lunges.

  4. Stay hydrated. Taking in enough fluids is easy to remember when the heat and humidity are soaring. Hydration is just as necessary during cold weather running. This includes hydration throughout the day as well as on the run. While coffee and hot tea taste great on a hot day, these fluids can contain caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic which promotes fluid leaving the body. Be sure to take in water throughout your day. If you will be running more than 45 minutes, be sure to pack hydration to go.

  5. Be seen. Winter months provide fewer hours of daylight for outdoor running. Add that to icy roads and winter can become a treacherous time for runners. Make yourself visible with light colored outer layers, reflective gear or tape, and a head lamp or running lights.

  6. Buddy up. Running with a partner is wonderful any time of the year. In the winter, you and a buddy can help keep one another accountable when it is often not easy to get out the front door. Running in groups also makes you more visible during low light runs.

  7. Bring a change of clothes. If you plan to travel to your running route, be sure to pack spare clothing. While you feel comfortable during your run, your clothing will be wet once you finish a run. Wet clothing will adapt to the surrounding temperature, making you colder faster. Dry clothes will improve your comfort and protect your core temperature during your post-run brunch with your running partner.