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How to Run in the Cold

Erich is a five time marathoner and has about five years of distance running experience

Safely running in the cold

So what's the difference between cold weather running and running at warm to cool temperatures? With the cold weather running you need to keep your body temperature at a reasonably high rate. You need two to three things which you may or may not think about, which are the following: Running gloves, tobaggan or mask that covers your entire face, layers and you could use compression sleeves. The rest of this article will talk about why each one is important.

  • Running gloves: The actual temperature one may need running gloves vary so if your a beginning runner or not otherwise adept to cold weather running it may be a good idea to do some experimentation at what temperature you need them. For example I know people who would want running gloves while it's in the 30's and there have been cases I've worn running gloves in the 20s and my hands are practically sweating 20 minutes in. If your not sure what type of gloves to buy here is a good list from Runners World which gives an in depth review of each brand. So what happens if you don't wear running gloves? Quite simply your hands will freeze which can impact your ability to effectively swing your arms which is a compenent of good running. In addition, it can also increase the chances of frost bite if your going to be out long enough.
  • Toboggan or mask: When I say a mask I don't mean a mask to prevent yourself from COVID. This would be a mask that would actually cover your whole face and can keep your face warm so ideally it should be fairly think. If wearing a tobaggan you may also want to make sure it's large enough to cover your ears. Why? The temperature in your head can also affect your normal body temperature and in some cases you may be putting yourself at risk for hypothermia. Besides who really wants to freeze like that in the cold anyways. My personal experience with the mask is you don't really need the mask unless it gets into the 20's or below and your going to be out there for a period of time.
  • Layers: Considering that the act of running involves a lot of pumping your arms and legs your probably not going to be very comfortable wearing one giant coat or sweatshirt while running. A more reasonable solution will be to layer up which isn't as uncomfortable as one may think. For example when I wear multiple layers I will wear my first two layers as a regular undershirt and sweatshirt and then the third will be either a fleece or a hoodie depending on the temperature and what I'm in the mood for.
  • Compression sleeves or socks and thermal underwear I know, your probably thinking how could one seriously wear that much on their legs at once? You don't, it only would be one or the other. For those that have never worn compression sleeves and socks in my experience they can actually double up as leg warmers. The only caveat to them is you need to make sure that you get some that are properly sized but that is a different article for a different day. If your a newbie runner my suggestion would be to simply go to a local running store and they should be able to fit you for some. Compression sleeves and socks can help increase blood flow but some times people can't wear them or prefer not too. In that scenario wearing thermal underwear would be a good alternative. So what is thermal underwear? For those not familiar it's basically really long underwear that is pretty much worn like pants and is designed to be worn in cold weather.

So which brand should one use? There are a ton of them out there and believe it or not a lot of running shoe companies also sell other types of running gear which can find on their web site. This happens the most frequently in some of the most popular shoe companies such as Hoka, Saucony, Brooks and Nike. So which one will you choose?

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