Cara’s Top Ten Winter Run Survival Tips

  1. Cover your important bits. In this case, I mean your ears and your hands. Whether you prefer a hat or a headband, keeping your ears covered is imperative when it is below freezing. Same with your fingers- nothing like thinking you will lose an appendage to frostbite by the time you make it back home. My running gloves have reflective seams as well as index finger and thumb touch screen capability. This is a must if you run with your phone!  
    Fancy gloves with fancy fingers.
    Fancy gloves with fancy fingers.
    • As far as running tights and shirts, Under Armour has the competition beat in my opinion. This is not just my Maryland pride showing- UA ColdGear is slightly thicker than any other brand’s winter gear, which makes just enough difference to help block the cold wind as well as wick sweat. Their compression tights do not move at all when I run. No one wants to fidget with their crotch on a run, am I right? These tights are also long enough for tall people. Don’t overdress- you will warm up! Better to start out a little cold than to have an extra layer to deal with when you warm up a couple miles in.

2. Plan to meet someone. You don’t want to be the guy who stands someone up when the thermometer reads 25 degrees F.

3. Warm up more than you think you need to. In my case, I spend a few minutes in the hall of my building doing some dynamic movements (thanks, Ignite360, for giving me a warm up routine!) and a couple of trips up and down the stairs. When it is very cold out, it feels infinitely more terrible to start moving when you aren’t warmed up appropriately compared to hot weather.

Warming up inside is totally acceptable.
Warming up inside is totally acceptable.

4. Sometimes mental tricks are necessary to get yourself going. Think of warm things- coffee, hot sauce, Ringling bridge repeats in August, Jimmy Buffett, whatever. Just don’t focus on the temperature outside!  Beating the weather requires the opposite approach from summer early morning long runs in SRQ. In this case, wait until the sun comes up to get going; it makes a huge difference.

5. Cool down and STRETCH. This step also feels more important in the cold. When you stop moving in the cold, your muscles seem to tighten up way faster than they would otherwise.

6. Fuel appropriately. Just because you aren’t sweating buckets doesn’t mean you don’t need fuel. Make sure you water bottles don’t leak. Wet hands, below freezing… no thank you. PS- gummies and chomps turn rock hard. Be prepared.

7. When feeling cold and defeated (usually about halfway in the long run, just before the turn around), think about how badass you are compared to the people not outside running in the cold! Also at this point I like to envision a hot shower and some delicious food. “The faster you run, the faster you are done,” as my best friend and running inspiration MG says.

8. Watch your step. Frozen uneven ground and ice patches will sneak out and get you. Then it is a really cold long limp back to the starting point.

9. Attempt to appreciate the fresh frigid air as it freezes your trachea and lungs. Although truthfully, after a while it really does get easier to breathe compared to thick South Florida humidity.

10. Learn how to blow snot rockets. Obviously.

So now you are prepared to go out and brave the cold! Happy New Year, y’all!


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