Run Safe in Cold Weather
Home › Education › For Runners › Cold Weather Running Tips
- Be Alert: Wet, wintery conditions may weaken tree limbs causing them to fall. Hearing the crack before the fall may be the difference between avoiding a falling branch or being tackled by a dead limb.
- Plan your route: Oncoming winter storms can quickly drop the temperature putting you at risk for frostbite or hypothermia. Know where to find shelter if the weather turns, or head back home and live to run another day.
- Avoid running on roads: In snowy conditions, drivers have a decreased ability to maneuver and stop.
- Layer up: Layers of clothing that will help you maintain your core body temperature during the run. It is better to wear a little more, and shed your layers as you warm-up, than not wear enough and develop hypothermia dangers.
- Buy traction cleats for your shoes: There are great products on the market that slip on your shoes to help improve traction control on ice and snow. Look for brands with high rating like Yaktrax.
- Wear a hat: Turns out the the old "you lose most of your body heat from your head" is false. You lose body heat from any exposed skin when out in the cold. That said, covering your head along with other body parts will help you retain body heat and avoid frostnip or frostbite.
- Avoid frostnip: Frostnip is a mild form of frostbite. Continued exposure to cold leads to numbness in the affected area. As your skin warms, you may feel pain and tingling. Frostnip doesn't permanently damage the skin.
- Prevent frostbite: Once sub-zero temps hit, it takes about 30-minutes for exposed skin to get frostbite. Exposed skin in cold, windy weather is most vulnerable to frostbite. Frostbite can occur on skin covered by gloves or other clothing in extreme cold. As frostbite progresses, it affects all layers of the skin and tissues below and requires medical attention.
- Don't ignore shivering: It is an important first sign that the body is losing heat, and you may be in danger of hypothermia.
- Understand hypothermia: When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature. It can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
- Know the signs of hypothermia: Shivering, which may stop as hypothermia progresses as the body can no longer warm up on its own. Confusion, slurred speech, and memory loss sets in along with loss of coordination. This is followed by weaking of the pulse and slowed breathing. Don't get to this point, call 911 or get to a warm safe place well before hypothermia sets in.