It is that time of year when the temperature begins to drop and the days are shorter. Because of this many people believe it means the morning and evening outdoor runs/walks need to come to an end. This is very far from the truth, in my personal opinion; it is my favorite time of the year to go for morning runs. I find it very relaxing and peaceful to be out there in the dark with not many people around.
Because of the darkness though, some guidelines must be followed for safe running or walking.
If you follow the above mentioned guidelines your winter outdoor walking or running will be much more enjoyable.
Another thing a lot of people have questions about this time of year is what to wear. There are multiple things you need to consider; the time of day, temperature, wind, intensity of work out as well as conditions (sunny, cloudy, rainy or snowy). For running the general rule is to dress 20 deg warmer than what it is (with wind chill). So yes, when you initially start, you will be a little cool. Below is a general guideline that I use when running and have had great success with it. It is especially important in the cooler weather to wear dry wicking clothes, to help keep your sweat off your body. A lot of winter clothing will have tags telling you what temp it is best for.
50 deg and above: Shorts and tank top/shirt.
40-50 deg: Light long sleeve shirt and light running tights. At this point I usually start to wear a hat and light gloves as well.
30-40 deg: Use a base layer (light long sleeve shirt), under a light pullover or jacket. Continue to use the lighter tights.
20-30 deg: Use a slightly warmer pair of tights, and upper body base layer (I use SmartWool) and continue with the lighter jacket/pullover.
0 – 20 deg: Continue with the warmer tights and upper body base layer, and I will wear either an additional base layer or heavier jacket. I will also start using a warmer pair of gloves/mittens and have protection around the neck at this time.
0 and below: At this time I am pulling out the specific warm tights for 10 deg and colder. For the upper body I will use SmartWool base layer as well as a warmer pullover/jacket made for 10deg or below. Some people use protection around entire face at this time.
When the wind chill hits -15 degs or less, take it inside. Frostbite can happen within 30 minutes
The above suggestions are different for everyone and also depend on how long and hard the workout is but it will give you a general idea of where to start. Go to a running store in the area and they will be more than happy to help you. It may sound like you need multiple different items, but you don’t. I have 1 pair of tights and jacket specifically for 10 deg or colder. You can also do more layering of the warmer weather clothing for the cooler weather. A great website to help you decide what to wear is: http://www.runnersworld.com/what-to-wear. You enter some details and it will give you a general idea of what to wear.
One last thing is running in the snow. I recommend a Gore-Tex running shoe to prevent feet getting wet. Using Yaktrax for improved traction in the snow and ice is very helpful as well. I find them most helpful in the ice and light snow. In deeper snow they don’t always get the best traction.
Enjoy your winter running!
Amie Ramczyk, MPT
FHC Fort Therapy and Sport Center