Whether you’re an avid runner who can’t fathom giving up your runs because of the temperature, or you’ve recently committed yourself to an early spring race that will require some winter training, make sure you’re prepared for the elements! Julia Kajen, PT, DPT, Physical Therapist at Tufts Medical Center has tips to help you stay safe and have a successful run, no matter the weather!
- Don’t let weather changes ruin your workout. If the roads look too dangerous, opt for an indoor workout. Do a body-weight workout consisting of squats, lunges, planks, pushups, running up stairs or jumping rope.
- If you do venture out in poor weather, bring your phone in case you need to call for a ride or Uber home (or bring your Charlie card if you pass any T stops).
- Let someone know you’re going to be out of the house, the general route you’re taking, and what time you expect to be home. This is most important in the dark, or when it’s snowing or raining.
Know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia!
- Dizziness, nausea, impaired coordination and speech, drowsiness and atypical fatigue, confusion and poor decisionmaking (like trying to remove warm clothes) are all symptoms of this dangerous illness that occur when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it.
- Be on the lookout for other runners who might be experiencing these symptoms.
- To prevent hypothermia, begin your route FACING the wind so the return portion has the wind at your back; this is important once you are sweating because running into the wind at the end of a workout increases the risk for hypothermia.
- If you suspect hypothermia in yourself or another runner, call 911 to immediately go to the closest Emergency Room.
Dress safely – layers are your friend.
- Dress in layers! Start with an innermost layer for moisture management – avoid cotton. The middle layer is for insulation, so try a light fleece. The outmost layer will protect against wind, rain, and snow, so it’s best to wear something water-repellent.
- Keep extremities warm: mittens, warm socks, and a light fleece hat or earmuffs are a must for extremely cold temperatures.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf or ski mask; this is especially helpful for exercisers with exercise-induced or cold-weather induced asthma.
- Wear reflective clothing in the dark (all year round).
- Wear sunglasses and sunscreen if out in the sun, even when it’s cold!
- Make sure your sneakers have proper traction.
Increase your warm up – and start it indoors.
- Warming up is a MUST for injury prevention, and a more comfortable and successful exercise session.
- Begin indoors with a dynamic 10 minute warm-up of jumping jacks, jogging in place, squats or jump squats. Then, perform a warm-up outside that is longer than your usual (jog for a little longer before running).
Your cooldown should be a little longer than usual as well.
- Don’t stop running immediately; jog for about 5 minutes decreasing the speed before walking or stopping.
- Once inside, remove each layer slowly as you are performing your end of workout stretches.
Don’t forget to hydrate!
- Even if you don’t feel thirsty after a workout, it is vital to hydrate with water, just like you would in warmer temperatures.
Struggling to stick with it?
- Joining an outdoor exercise group like a running club (SBS has one of their own!) in the winter can help improve motivation and adherence to an exercise routine. You’ll look forward to running with others even on the dark & cold nights!
Value your time outside and exercising!
- Exercise increases serum concentrations of endocannabinoids, which produce a sense of well-being, decrease anxiety, and lessen the experience of pain.
- If you can exercise in the daylight you get the extra bonus of reducing wintertime problems such as low mood, poor sleep patterns, decreased energy and less Vitamin D availability.