Winter is finally here, and for many of us, that means three things: Snow, bitter cold temperatures, and a dwindling eagerness to get outside and sweat.
And while the harsh conditions may have you feeling discouraged, it doesn’t mean you can plop on your couch and hibernate until the snow melts. You just need to know how to adapt to the changes in weather, says Jenny Hadfield, author of Running for Mortals and founder of CoachJenny.com.
Take your training off the treadmill and back into the light of day with these five killer tips on braving winter’s bite.
1. Follow the 15-degree rule
Avoid extreme temperatures like the plague. Not only are they harder on the body, but they diminish the quality of your run because you’re straining cold muscles, says Hadfield. A good rule of thumb: Anything under 15 degrees Fahrenheit is grounds to stay indoors.
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2. Seek a solid path
When you attempt to run on ice, “you alter your form by tightening up, which ultimately leads to other issues,” says Hadfield. Instead, look for something plowed, salted, and ice-free. Can’t seem to avoid the white stuff? “Running on fresh snow, or even a snow-packed path can make for an enjoyable workout.” Just remember to focus on your footing.
3. Pretend it’s 40 degrees out
Always dress like it’s 15 to 20 degrees warmer outside than it actually is, Hadfield advises. That way, there’s room for your core temperature to increase once you start moving. “If you walk out and you’re toasty warm, you need to remove a layer,” says Hadfield. And avoid cotton at all costs. “It won’t pull the moisture away from your skin,” says Hadfield. “So you want the layer closest to your skin to be moisture-wicking.”
4. Shower before your workout
“The colder it is outside, the longer your warm-up needs to be,” Hadfield says. If you want to get fired up before you even step outside, jump in a hot shower. “It’s time consuming, but it can be great for those early morning long runs.” If you don’t want to get wet, do a dynamic warm-up inside your house. Whether you hit the stairs or knock out a series of walking lunges, anything to pre-warm your muscles is a good idea, says Hadfield.
5. Load up on H2O
Last but not least, remember to hydrate. “We tend not to drink as much water in the wintertime,” says Hadfield. You may not overheat or be drenched in sweat, but your body still needs to refuel. The dryness in the air really sucks the moisture out of you, says Hadfield. (Discover which of your favorite athletes made it onto to Men's Health 100 Fittest Men of All-Time.)