The coldest days of winter are upon us. It's dark, it's freezing, sometimes it snows, and it's no wonder anyone could have difficulty getting outside for a run. Here are some tips to keep going until spring comes to relieve us in a few months:
Wear layers. I can't say it enough. There's nothing more miserable than being cold for your entire run. Bring gloves and a hat or headband because you lose a lot of heat through your head and hands. And several thinner layers will trap heat better than one big thick layer. This also provides you with the flexibility to adjust your body temperature just in case you get warm in the middle of your run. Make sure your bottom layer will wick away the sweat because if it's just cotton, then when you start to sweat underneath all those layers, you're going to get cold.
Wear bright clothing or a reflective vest, and carry a flashlight or headlamp if you're running in the dark. It's not the coolest thing in the world to be wearing an orange reflective vest, but safety is so important. You want to make sure you're visible to cars because on a dark, slippery road, accidents happen, and the last thing you want is to end up in a cast or in bed for several months.
What happens if you're sick? The general rule of thumb is that if your symptoms are above the chest (i.e. runny nose, sore throat, etc.), you're safe to run, but if your symptoms are below the chest (i.e. nausea, vomiting), you should play it safe and rest. If you're not sure, it may be better to rest and take fluids and see if you feel better tomorrow. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
Drink plenty of fluids. You probably won't sweat too much when you're out running since it's so cold outside, but you're still getting dehydrated. It's common to under-hydrate during the cold winter months because we just don't feel like drinking water when we're cold in the same way we do when we're hot and thirsty. But your body still needs it, so make sure that you still take in plenty of water when you're done running to facilitate recovery.
Avoid icy roads. Again, this is a safety measure. Watch where you're running. You could slip and fall or get bumped by a car, and either way, adjusting your running route now is far better than taking a month off because you're injured.
Use this time to cross-train or run on the treadmill if you have the resources to do so. Now is an excellent time to build up the muscles that you ignore when you're in the middle of peak training time. Or to vary your routine a bit so you don't get bored. Or to make any excuse to stay inside and stay warm.
As for me, I'm just hoping that come Groundhog Day, we won't be seeing six more weeks of winter.