The question: I started running this summer and love it, but I am worried I am going to stop as the weather gets colder. Any tips for how to dress and manage running outdoors in the cold?
The answer: Some runners are willing to warm-up as they run, but I hate being cold. I need to be warm right from the get-go, so for me, layering is key. I love wearing arm warmers, leg warmers, gloves, hats and even a balaclava. Basically anything I can take off as I warm up. For example, I usually start wearing both a hat and the hood from my running jacket. Once I warm up, I just wear the hood.
My biggest winter running pet peeve is when cold air causes the skin above my ankles to become cold and dry. So, I always wear tall socks or pants that are tight at the ankle (or both).
I also change my running route in the fall and winter. I do multiple small loops so I can easily get home if I want to drop layers off, pick layers up, or if I fall and want to get home ASAP. (I have become more cautious after falling on black ice last year).
Lastly, if I want to run when it is dark or extremely cold, I allow myself to run on the treadmill. Sometimes runners adopt the mindset that treadmill running is not "real" running. The problem what that mindset is that it can become an excuse to stop moving during the winter. Sure, running on the treadmill is not the same as running outside, but some movement is always better than no movement. And since the belt forces you to run at a constant speed, runners can use that to learn how to pace themselves during speed intervals.
Every runner will adapt to running in the cold differently; it took me years to perfect my rituals. If you freeze on your first cold-weather run, don't give up. Try again, take the time to figure out what works for you.
Trainer's tip: Use the colder weather as incentive to try different athletic activities. Running can lead to overuse injuries, so mix it up! Try skiing, snowboarding, lifting weights and doing yoga.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for over 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.