Top Gear Picks for Outdoor Gear This Season
It’s easy to get out for a run when the weather is nice, but real champions are made in winter! Running in winter conditions can help you improve your fitness and get a head start on your spring training. Many people, however, are afraid to brave the frosty temperatures and the nasty conditions of winter. But you shouldn’t let this stop you! You can always do some easy base training. True to the motto, “There is no bad weather – only bad clothing,” you should definitely adapt your running gear to the demands of winter. Today’s blog post will show you what gear you really need to run during the cold time of the year.
Hats, scarves and gloves
Your body loses nearly 50% of its heat through your head and hands. Therefore, you need to keep these areas warm in winter. The best way to protect your head is a hat made of functional fabric that wicks away moisture from your body. This way your head stays dry and warm. In addition, you should cover your throat and neck with a tube scarf. This keeps cold air from getting in and prevents neck tension and stiffness. Plus, you can cover your face with the scarf when it is extremely cold outside. This prevents the cold air from irritating your bronchial tubes. Gloves are also an essential part of your winter running gear: You feel the cold first in your hands because your body reduces the blood flow to your extremities. There are special running gloves to deal with this that are not too thick or too heavy. The goal is to look for light winter gear that still keeps you warm. You don’t want to dress too warm and slow yourself down due to the extra weight.
Dress like an onion
A very important aspect of running in winter is your clothing: You don’t want to dress too warm and overheat. One proven strategy for avoiding this is to dress like an onion – simply put on several thin layers of clothing on top of each other. This allows you to take off a layer once your body warms up. It’s best to stick with functional fabrics that wick away moisture from your body. This keeps your skin dry without cooling down your body temperature. The outermost layer should be a wind and water resistant running jacket to protect you from the rain and snow.
Socks for dry feet
Keeping your feet dry is very important for running. Since your feet do most of the work while running, they don’t tend to get cold so quickly. Socks with a special Gore-Tex membrane protect your feet from snow and slush and keep your feet toasty warm.
The right shoes
Almost every running shoe will work for running under normal winter conditions. However, as soon as the forest floor freezes or there is a lot of snow, your feet need a shoe with good support, stability and traction. The stable construction of trail shoes keeps your ankles from rolling sideways, and the non-slip sole helps you push off with maximum force on any surface. If the conditions get really icy, “snow chains” for your running shoes can give you the extra grip you need.
Protect your skin
Winter can be just as hard on our skin as summer: The dry air of heated rooms robs your skin of moisture and the cold air on your run also takes its toll.
A simple moisturizer isn’t going to cut it – it would freeze in the cold. The right choice to protect your face and lips is a cream with a high fat content. Depending on the weather, this should also contain UV protection: Don’t underestimate the power of sunlight reflected from ice and snow. This can lead to sunburns – even in winter.
Before and after running in winter
Due to the cold temperatures, your muscles are more prone to injury. A thorough warm-up and stretching program indoors before your run can give you the flexibility and muscle tone you need for your run. The most effective way is a combination of cardio warm-up and muscle activation like the following:
- 5 x 30 seconds of jumping rope, skipping in place or mountain climbers
- 5 x 30 seconds of bodyweight exercises (for example, burpees, push-ups or squats)
- 5 x 30 seconds of dynamic stretching exercises covering most of the major muscle groups
This prevents a cold start by increasing your muscle and body temperature and gets you ready for your running workout.
In winter, a proper cool-down is a must. When you run in cold temperatures, your muscles lose heat and contract, thus limiting your range of motion. A good cool-down can return lost mobility to tight muscles. This helps you maintain the level of muscle performance you want throughout the winter, and you don’t have to struggle with winter’s tight muscles in spring.
Go running outdoors even in winter and try to enjoy the unique challenges of the cold time of the year. Use the winter to maintain your base fitness. With a little motivation and determination, you will get a jumpstart on your spring training that you could never achieve by simply running indoors.
Keep on running!