The dawn of a new year has a way of getting many people excited about starting a new exercise regime – but for runners, the arrival of January can bring on a slew of problems. Even if you normally love putting your sneakers to the pavement, cold winter weather can make running outside a chilly chore, but you can make things a little easier on yourself. Check out these solutions to common winter running problems, so you can keep running outside and avoid the dreaded treadmill.
Problem: You don’t know how many layers to wear
Solution: When the wind chill makes the weather even more freezing than it already is, it can be tempting to pile on the layers, but you don’t want to overheat 20 minutes into your run. You usually want to dress about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the actual temperature; sure, the first couple of kilometres might make you shiver, but once your blood starts pumping, you’ll be braving the cold like Elsa from Frozen.
Problem: The cold air hurts your lungs
Solution: Nobody likes the sudden shock of sucking winter air into their body. Try to breathe through your nose during your workout, which gives your body the chance to filter and warm the air before it hit your lungs. If you have to breath through your mouth, consider a running balaclava that covers your mouth – that will also help warm the air before you breathe it in. If your lungs continue to burn in the cold weather, however, consult your doctor, as you may have exercise-induced asthma.
Problem: Your ears, toes, and/or fingers ache in the cold
Solution: Blood has a harder time getting to your ears, fingers and toes, so you could be wearing 20 layers at a time and still feel the cold in your extremities. Consider getting a running headband or toque that covers your ears, some wool socks, and a light pair of gloves that you can easily stuff in your pockets if you need to. That way, you can keep your extremities toasty without overheating later on.
Problem: Your water bottle freezes
Solution: Unsurprisingly, below-freezing temperatures has a nasty habit of turning water into, well, ice. The solution to this is pretty simple: fill your water bottle with really hot water at the start of your workout. This will make it so it takes much longer for the weather to freeze your water. If your winter runs are long enough that even this trick doesn’t help, think about looping back home halfway through your run to refill your bottle with more hot water.
Problem: Your favourite running trails are covered in snow
Solution: Sadly, if your preferred nature trails aren’t maintained, you’ll likely have to get creative with finding new routes that are safer, even if they’re not as picturesque. Stick to sidewalks and asphalt that have been cleared, and use sites like Gmap Pedometer to plan your run beforehand. (Remember: If you run on the roads, be sure to run in the opposite direction of traffic!)
Problem: You’re afraid of slipping on ice
Solution: Even well-maintained sidewalks and streets aren’t immune from icy patches. Until spring comes, try to slow your pace so you can watch your step more closely – getting injured on black ice is way more frustrating than taking a little more time to complete your workout. If the weather gets really cold, consider moving your workout inside; yes, treadmills can be boring, but they’re better than wearing a cast for several weeks. Remember, it’s only a few months until spring!