As long as I’m dressed appropriately for cold weather running, it’s that first mile that is really the toughest. Once I make it through that, I’m warmed-up and feel comfortable for the rest of my run.
If you’re like me and love running outside in the winter, but hate suffering through that first painful mile, try some of these tips to make cold weather running a little easier and more comfortable:
1. Warm up inside before you head out.
Run or march in place for 10 minutes or do other warm-up exercises before you head out. Your muscles will already be warm, so you won’t notice the extreme temperature difference as much.
2. Dress in thin layers of technical running clothes.
Start with a thin layer of synthetic material such as polypropylene, which wicks sweat from your body. When you wear thin layers, it’s easy to take off a layer if you warm up and tie it around your waist. Stay away from cotton because once it gets wet (from sweat or snow), it stays wet. An outer, breathable layer of nylon or Gore-Tex will help protect you against wind and precipitation, while still letting out heat and moisture to prevent overheating and chilling. If it’s really cold out, you’ll need a middle layer, such as polar fleece, for added insulation.
3. Warm up your clothes in the dryer.
Throw your running clothes in the dryer for a few minutes before you head out the door into the blustery weather. You’ll feel warm and cozy when you start your run. And by the time the warmth from the dryer fades, you’ll already be past that first uncomfortable mile.
4. Wear a hat.
We lose a lot of heat from our heads when running in the cold weather. Wearing a winter hat made of a warm fabric like wool or fleece can help you stay warmer and comfortable for longer periods of time. You can always tuck it in your pocket or pants if you feel like you’re starting to overheat later in your run.
5. Cover your face.
To make breathing easier during that first mile, cover your mouth and nose with a neck warmer, scarf, or bandana. This will help warm the air before it hits your lungs. Covering your face is especially helpful if you’re running in the wind. You can always take it off once you warm up and your body adjusts.
6. Use hand warmers.
I always find that it takes my hands and feet the longest to warm up. It helps to use hand warmers, such Grabber Hand Warmers, inside your gloves or socks, on top of your toes. Once your hands and feet warm up, you can take them out so you don’t overheat.
7. Double up on your gloves.
In really cold temperatures, you may need an extra layer of gloves to help keep those hands warm. You can always take off the extra pair and put them in your pocket once they get warm.