Tips for Winter Running + Winter Essentials

Winter is coming here.

We woke up to “dangerously cold” wind chills this morning. It’s been so cold that last week when I opened the jars of nut butters that had been delivered (I’m an addict), they were frozen solid. Also, LG&E decided that would be a good day to turn the heat off in our building for maintenance. (You can read more about that incident here.)

Therefore, I thought today would be an appropriate time to share my advice for winter running, along with some of my winter essentials. (You can browse last year’s essentials here.)

winter running

My tips for winter running:

  • Although you can layer almost anything over a solid base layer, I think a good windbreaker is essential. Ever since I first got my windbreaker a little over a year ago, it has become a staple in my cold weather running wardrobe. I’ve even worn it for several races, like here and here. It still blows my mind that something so weightless does such a good job at keeping me warm.
  • On days that it’s below freezing, I’ll sometimes carry hand warmers with me on a run. Nick and I received these re-usable hand warmers a couple Christmases ago from his aunt (who always gives the best practical gifts) and they’re still going strong.
  • My feet usually stay mostly numb for the first few freezing miles, but performance wool socks ensure that once my blood fully circulates, my feet stay warm. Merino wool is naturally sweat-wicking, too! I personally love my Swiftwick socks, and they’re USA-made and Tennessee-based (which I didn’t know until Margaret included that in a blog post a while back.)
  • You could call them an “accountability partner” but I also believe that winter days are just more bearable with a buddy suffering running alongside you. I recently went trail running with a friend, and even though it was a “real feel” of 15 degrees, we got caught up in conversation and the miles passed by quickly.
  • Truly, on days that it is “dangerously cold” or icy I feel it is better to run inside on a treadmill or indoor track. I know some runners believe that you aren’t a real, committed, tough-as-iron runner if you use a treadmill, but I don’t believe it. I’d rather spend a few days on the treadmill and be safe, than risk breaking a bone by slipping on ice or frostbite from bitter cold and not be able to run at all.
  • If you’re looking for a good way to cross-train in the winter, consider warm yoga. I might be biased because I practice and teach in a studio heated to 90 degrees, but I definitely think it’s the way to go. Although the benefits can be experienced year round, the warmth of the studio can be particularly beneficial to muscles that are cold from the temperatures outside. You could also try hot yoga, with temperatures up to 110 degrees, if you really want to feel the heat.

And a few extra winter essentials…

  • Although I admittedly do not like the taste of this spice, turmeric tea can warm you up and fight inflammation. I make a basic version with hot water, a splash of lemon juice, a spoonful of honey, and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. You could also try Joy the Baker’s slightly more fancy Turmeric Tonic.
  • Until we recently (finally) purchased a stopper for our tub, I hadn’t had a hot bath in a while. Now, I’m indulging with the bath salts I got for my birthday several times a week. Whether your muscles are sore from a workout, or you just want a nice soak, it’s always a treat.
  • In the winter, I think food should be hot in both temperature and flavor. I love cooking a big pot of chili, like this vegan chili, or this one that feeds us for a week or more.
  • Once you’ve had your chili, tea, and hot bath, crawl into a bed of flannel sheets. With our large, drafty windows (our apartment building is 100+ years old) they are the only thing keeping us cozy at night. Well, that and two cats sleeping by our feet.
How I feel about winter (especially at the end of a run)
How I feel about winter (especially at the end of a run)

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