Tips for Running in Cooler Weather from Tips for Running in Cooler Weather

Tips for Running in Cooler Weather

Days are shorter and temperatures are lower. Don’t consider going back to the gym or running in place, if jogging outside suddenly feels like a chore. Research has shown that people who run on treadmills burn less energy than those who run the same distance but outside, mostly because there is no wind resistance and changes in terrain. “As the weather gets cooler, being prepared takes more planning than on those warmer days when it seems that you can just wake up, walk out the door, and start running,” Matt Wilpers, a running and fitness coach, says.

Running in the dark

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Expect and plan for running in the dark more often if you are running before or after work, Wilpers says. “As a coach, this gets me every year as I plan group workouts. Before I know it, the paths and trails that I have my runners on become dangerous as they are not well lit anymore.” Remember to think about whether or not there will be sufficient light on your planned path as the temperature decrease.

You have to be seen from far away

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You want to make sure you are seen, Wilpers says. “Wear reflective clothing and/or bring a light like a headlamp or flashlight. Lastly, it's always a good idea to run with a friend – this also increases the chance of the two of you being seen.

Watch out for fallen leaves

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“If you love running trails like I do, beware of fallen leaves that may be hiding obstacles or cause you to slip and lose your balance,” Wilpers says. “In college we trained on trails year-round and leaves always caused a sprained ankle or two.”

It's better to be too warm on a run than not warm enough

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“If you are not sure whether or not to bring that extra layer on a training run, I always error on the side of being too warm and bringing that extra layer just in case,” Wilpers says. Worse comes to worse, you can take it off and carry it with you or hide it somewhere on the course and pick it up on your way back. “In addition to avoiding hypothermia, I find that the extra warmth helps my body get to an optimal running temperature more quickly and it also helps me reduce injuries due to tight muscles and tendons,” he adds.

Remember to hydrate

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It is easy to get dehydrated as the weather gets cooler and the body’s thirst response diminishes. This makes people less likely to drink enough fluids. “While we may not appear to be losing as much water via excessive sweat on our skin, we still lose water through vapor (when we breathe) and urine,” Wilpers says.

Wear a windbreaker

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This will help avoid sudden chills from gusty winds and/or light rains that might pop-up on your runs, Wilpers says. “Windbreakers are fantastic to wear as the top layer, and then add thin moisture-wicking layers underneath as you see fit for the temperature.”

Cover your ears and fingers

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Remember to think about covering your extremities as the days get colder. These include your ears, toes, feet and fingers, Wilpers says. Gloves, hats, and extra pair of socks are helpful. Consider inner polypropylene gloves and an outer layer of mittens for running in cooler weather. Painters gloves are OK for relatively mild temperatures.

Bring a change of dry clothes

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You need them for after your run as the moisture from your sweat can cause you to chill in the cooler air once your body cools down from the run, Wilpers says. You should also change as soon as you’ve stopped running. Your hair is probably wet, too, so don’t forget to put a dry hat on.  

Warm up

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This is crucial. Remember to warm-up adequately for the given intensity of your workout or race. “As the weather gets cooler, it takes our bodies longer to get to an optimal temperature for running,” Wilpers says. “So, make sure you allocate enough time and effort to warming up.”

Wear the right fabrics

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Cotton clothes are off limits and the right pair of socks can be the difference between happy or horribly beat up feet. Pick clothes that are made from materials such as polypropylene, capilene, and some synthetic blends because they wick moisture away from the body and keep you warm and dry. Stick with lightweight, moisture wicking fabrics for a comfortable, weatherproof outfit.