Nothing is worse for an avid runner than the winter.

It’s a time when some of us will finally give up the battle with the elements, put away our cold weather gear, and jump on the treadmill. Other runners try to get outside regardless of the ice and snow.

See Treadmill Workouts: What Runners Need to Know

runner in the winter During the winter season, in addition to common running injuries, runners also become susceptible to hypothermia and falls. See Common Running Injuries

Tips for running smart

For those who continue to run outside in the winter, here are 5 things to consider.

  1. Cover up. When the temperature is below freezing, your cold-weather gear is irreplaceable. If you don’t cover your mouth and nose with a facemask or scarf, the air entering your lungs could freeze the moisture inside, forming ice crystals.
  2. Beware of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a risk, regardless of how warm you feel once you start running. Sweating can increase your risk of developing this life-threatening condition, especially once you stop moving.
  3. Protect your heart. Keep in mind that extreme temperatures can lead to heart-related emergencies. How many of us have heard about someone suffering a heart attack while shoveling snow? It’s important to warm up the body to get it in shape for strenuous activity. To fully prepare the body, do some indoor exercise first to get the heart ready. Once you’re outside, walk for 10 minutes before running.
  4. Skip the street. Along with the cold temperatures your body is contending with, the running surface is often more challenging. Ice can cause paths to become hazardous and snow will likely decrease your course options, depending on where you typically run.

    I often see runners take to the streets, something I strongly discourage. Available pavement may be narrower due to plowing deposits. Roads are probably as icy and slippery as the sidewalks, but with the added risk of sharing your space with 2-ton vehicles. If the road is your only option, you should find yourself a treadmill to use in the winter.
  5. Protect your feet. One last thing to consider is footwear. I recommend a cross trainer rather than a running shoe. Traction and stability are key during the winter, and a sturdier shoe goes a long way in helping you navigate the ice and snow. Runners often gravitate toward a minimalistic soft, malleable shoe which allows weight reduction—what some consider to be a less restrictive shoe. The lightweight shoes offer very little in guarding against the elements, though, and your feet would appreciate a little warmth as well at this time of year.

Learn more:

Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)

Ankle Sprain and Strain Risk Factors