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10 things you need to know for training in the cold

Runner braves the polar vortex in Milwaukee, WI
Runner braves the polar vortex in Milwaukee, WI
Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images

What audacity Mother Nature has to inhibit your training. The nerve of some cold front to move in just when you were seeing gains and achieving goals. You can't be expected to train in weather like this, everyone says it's dangerous, better safe than sorry, you're crazy (that seems to be a common one) so with frigid temperatures sticking around, you may think your training will suffer.

It doesn't have to.

Those warnings and naysayers are the people who don't understand what it is like to maintain that grueling routine. They are the same ones who don't have time in their busy schedule to carve out a 30 minute workout here, a 60 minute one there. Any excuse will do and today it's the cold. You do need to be prepared and that's why you're here. If you consider the weather, any type, an obstacle to overcome and make goals to continue your training, you will continue your training and boost your confidence.

Before heading out there and scoffing at those with less resolve, don't forget, it's still below freezing. Here are 10 things you need to know to train in the cold.

Dress appropriately
Dress appropriately Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Dress appropriately

This sounds obvious but finding the right balance of not getting too hot and numb fingers and toes can be tricky. Multiple layers are a great way to do this. A tight, moisture wicking layer to begin with, a thick, warm fabric and then a softshell that is water proof and/or wind proof works very well. Adding or adjusting these layers as needed. Socks are important but can also affect the fit of your shoe. Make sure they're warm enough, especially if you don't have water proof shoes. Which is one that I recommend, it'll keep moisture in as well which will help keep your feet warm. Gloves are important, just like the shoes, warm interior and weather proof exterior. Covering your head tends to be the most challenging. Ski goggles are a great help especially since they're designed to fit inside cold weather gear. Balaclavas are great but putting them over your mouth can make moisture build up uncomfortable and create chapped lips. For the men, a beard is a huge help. Make certain each article of clothing overlaps at end points. Keeping your trunk warm will maintain blood flow to your extremities keeping them warm too.
Remember, warmth on the interior and weatherproof on the exterior.

Warm-up inside
Warm-up inside Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Warm-up inside

This gets overlooked because it might not pass the eye test. Bundled up and ready to go tackle some cold weather training? Stop for a minute and pick up the jump rope. You're bundled but you're not warm. Use the treadmill, large muscle exercises such as squats, push-ups or jumps, or you can even just jump rope. Whatever it is, if you have trouble with the cold weather warm up inside and head out warm.

Take it slow
Take it slow Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Take it slow

If these conditions are completely new to you, there's a good chance you need to adjust your workout. The first few days, cut your runs in half and go at a slower pace to know what to expect and how to adjust to it. Increase everything when you feel comfortable but take it all in stride.

Be safe
Be safe Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Be safe

If road conditions are bad or visibility is low, you probably don't want to run your normal route alongside the road. Find a trail where you get cell phone service and take it with you. If you get injured or go out too far and become too cold, you'll be glad you have that phone on you.

Don't eat right before you run
Don't eat right before you run Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Don't eat right before you run

Eating right before you go out will divert blood to your digestive system. Having warmed up and being ready to go, you might be all right. However, eating an hour or two prior to a working out will ensure warmth and safety during your run.

Stay hydrated
Stay hydrated Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Stay hydrated

It's not hot out, but you'll still be sweating and your body will be working to keep you warmer. You won't experience a drastic increase in calories burned but staying hydrated is necessary to make sure your body stays on point with working out through the cold.

Work out buddy
Work out buddy Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Work out buddy

Everything is easier, more fun and enjoyable with someone to do it with. Running in the cold is no different. The cold is a great equalizer too. Time and distance are thrown out the window since extreme cold is a different beast. Take some time, find someone who enjoys working out and tackle a new challenge...the cold.

Cool down and stretch inside
Cool down and stretch inside Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Cool down and stretch inside

You'll sweat and that means your clothes will be wet. While you're moving your body produces heat but once you slow or stop, watch out. That cold will cut into you quick and it can be dangerous. Get out of the cold quickly once you finish your workout. Even if you have to drive home, cool down, roll and stretch in your house.

Get naked
Get naked Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Get naked

Those clothes are wet and cold by now. Get out of them and put something else on, or even better, a steaming hot shower. The weather is already acting against you to make you cold, don't aid it by keeping wet clothing on your body.

Moisturize
Moisturize Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Moisturize

This gets overlooked all the time. Your skin is your largest organ and while that seems cliche, you do need to take care of it. Your face might be wind burned, your legs and arms will dry out and it can cause painful cracking so invest in some moisturizer even if it's just the generic stuff.