Get Traction on Running in Winter 

Yep, it sure is easier to stay tucked in bed or snuggled down with a good book than stepping out into winter wind for your Ridge Run training run. But unless you have a good excuse like illness or injury, you don’t need to stop running in winter. 

Here are some tips for keeping up your running routine when Chicago’s weather is coming in like a lion. 

Prepare Your Body 

Your body works harder when it’s running in the winter, so eat nutritious foods and stay hydrated.  

It’s not a bad idea to do a little cross training or weight workouts to keep up muscle strength all over. 

Warm up before you run – when it’s 20 degrees outside your cold muscles are really cold. And don’t forget the cool down at the end of your run. 

Protect Your Body 

The general rule is to dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer than it is whenever you run. In winter, you don’t want sweat to start getting icy, so the key is HOW you layer for the right temperature balance. 

Wear a thin synthetic base that fits tight to the skin for the first layer. Choose good quality tech material leggings and shirts that wick away moisture and maintain your body heat.  

Next choose a layer of insulated clothing that helps retain the warmth of the underlayer and provides a buffer to reduce any cold that may penetrate the outer layer. 

To top it off, slip into a warm, wind- and waterproof layer. Avoid bulky jackets and choose fabrics designed for warmth and weatherproofing.  

Head to Toe Protection 

Keeping your extremities warm is essential for protecting against not just the discomfort of the cold, but the possibility of injuries such as frostbite or hypothermia.  

Choose items designed for warmth as well as moisture wicking. Wear a good hat, running gloves or mittens (or both if it’s especially cold). In deep cold you may want to use a face mask, and try breathing through your nose.  

Choose running socks that are made for the winter from materials that don’t hold moisture.  

It’s not just about warmth when you’re choosing shoes. Be careful not to slip on ice and snow. Several brands of running shoes come in winter versions that have more traction, and many trail running shoes are made with thicker, waterproof soles. Some runners like non-slip grips they can wear right over their shoes. Shortening your strides can help reduce the risk of slipping.  

Keep it Light 

At this time of year it’s dark in the morning and in the afternoon — the most popular times for going for a run. Help drivers and others see you! Choose light colors for your outer layer, and think about adding reflectors or small blinking lights around your arms or on your hat.  

Know When to Say No 

If it’s too cold out – around 5 degrees Fahrenheit or below – choose to exercise indoors. If that’s not possible, protect your airways and body – reduce your pace, take your training down a notch, and reduce the length of time you’re outdoors. 

Stop by Running Excels, 10328 S. Western, for a selection of weather-appropriate running gear and footwear, as well as expert running advice. 



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