Running in the Cold

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The jump from pool-side heat to coat-and-scarves cold seems to be quick this year — but don’t let Mother Nature overthrow your workout plan! Running in the cold doesn’t have to be miserable. Check out our tips to keep safe, keep warm, and keep running this season.

Dress 20 degrees warmer.
Have you ever been surprised to find yourself sweating during a run in the snow? Because your body heats up as you workout, a good rule of thumb is to dress for a temperature 20 degrees higher than is forecast. Dress with several thinner layers, as opposed to few thick layers, and strip layers as necessary to better adjust to the temperature throughout your workout.

Pay attention to windchill.
Don’t get too caught up in the weather forecast’s highs and lows: as a runner, another useful figure is the wind chill. Wind chill is the temperature felt as a result of skin being exposed to both temperature and wind speed; in short, the wind chill is how cold it feels on your exposed skin. Weather forecasts will often offer this measurement in addition to its regular forecasted temperatures: use this figure to help gauge how much to cover up, and to protect yourself from frostbite.

Head, hands and feet.
The further away from your body, the more difficult it is for a body part to keep warm. Heat escapes fastest from your extremities, so make sure you have your bases covered. We lose 7 to 10 percent of our body heat though our heads if uncovered, according to a 2008 report in the British Medical Journal. You can prevent this by wearing hats or scarves — even just a pair of earmuffs can make a marked difference. Protect your hands with gloves or mittens, and use hand warmers for especially chilly days. Wool socks will keep your feet warm, so long as your sneakers aren’t letting any moisture seep in.

Don’t be a hero, kid.
While perseverance is something to be admired, don’t let dedication to your workout plan put you in harm’s way. When the windchill is too cold or the roads are too icy to safely run outdoors, consider an indoor workout instead. The view from the treadmill may not be as scenic - but running in the cold is not worth a hospital visit!

Rob Glauz