How to Stick to Your New Year's Resolution to Run More When It's Freezing Outside
BY RACHEL CAVANAUGH
If this sounds familiar, trust us, you’re not alone. The prospect of strapping on sneakers and venturing outside in the wintertime can sound daunting no matter who you are. But it isn’t as difficult as it sounds, we promise. In fact, if you know the right secrets, winter running has amazing perks that you can’t get in the summertime—things like extra solitude, stunning scenery, and a deeper, more introspective runner’s high.
“Winter trail running offers us the positive connection to nature that we are deprived of as we spend more time indoors during the winter,” explained Columbia Sportswear running specialist Derek Scott. “It’s a physical and mental boost. Fewer people are out there and the trails become less crowded, giving you more freedom to explore.”
To better equip you to hit the trails, we’ve rounded up some of Scott’s best tips for winter trail running. Check them out below.
1. Layer properly
Another option is to carry a small running pack. These can come in handy on runs with changes in elevation that will have colder, potentially snowier conditions up top, or thickly forested trails with less warm sunlight. When in doubt, it’s best to over-layer, Scott said. “Runners often make the mistake of dressing too lightly, which ends up being worse than overdressing.” Here’s a checklist he recommends:
- Base layer tee or long-sleeve
- Protective outer shell
- Long-sleeve half-zip (optional)
- Base layer tights
- Tall crew socks
- Waterproof running shoes
- Outer layer shorts (optional - for pockets)
- Running gloves
- Thin, warm hat
2. Have good traction
3. Stay warm
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to warm up before you start. If you have 60 minutes to run, for example, take the first 5 to 10 minutes to activate your body indoors with some yoga, body weight squats, or other light cardio. If you do these in your warm house before you leave, your body temperature will be elevated by the time you hit the chilly air. The hardest part can be overcoming the mental barrier. Scott said that creating incentives can help, such as:
- Keep a training log. Writing down your achievements makes you feel accomplished and helps keep you accountable.
- Designate special post-run treats that you only allow yourself to have on days you complete your runs.
- Find a running partner. This will be one more step to staying motivated and holding yourself accountable.
- Follow runners’ blogs, listen to podcasts, watch inspirational movies, put on motivational music, or explore other media that gets you excited about your new hobby.
4. Keep hydrated
One of the most helpful things you can do is to get in the habit of increasing your hydration throughout the week, Scott said, not just when you’re training. He pointed to small tricks like drinking more tea, incorporating smoothies into your morning routine, carrying a water bottle around with you everywhere, and shifting to slightly warmer water, which can be easier to get down at room temperature.
5. Start small
Final quick-tips for winter running
- At the beginning of each week, check the forecast and plan your training sessions accordingly. If there’s going to be sun on Wednesday, for example, make that day a priority.
- Invest in a GPS smartwatch like Garmin or FitBit so you can geek out on all your running stats, or sign up for an app like Strava to connect with a motivational community.
- On runs you have to drive to, always bring extra clothes to change into before heading home. Sweaty running gear drops your body temperature dramatically, so it will feel nice to crawl into warm, cozy clothes for the drive back.
- Have food waiting for you when you’re done. A crockpot with warm, delicious post-run meals in it is an awesome way to stay motivated in the wintertime.