Running in the winter in East Tennessee is something short of a guessing game.
The weather can vastly change in a matter of a few hours and plans to exercise outdoors can do the same.
Here are some tips to help make running in the cold less miserable:
HAVE AN INCENTIVE
Luring yourself out the door with the promise of a reward at the end — whether it be a catch-up with a friend or brunch — works like a charm.
GET THE RIGHT FOOTWEAR
To keep warmth in and slush out, run in shoes that have the least amount of mesh. If you have shoes with Gore-Tex uppers, all the better.
Wear socks that wick away wetness, but keep your feet warm, like non-itchy SmartWool socks.
DRESS IN LAYERS, BUT NOT TOO MANY
You want to be warm without sweating so much you get a chill. The rule of thumb is to dress as if it is 10 to 20 degrees warmer. You should be slightly cool when you start.
Think layers of technical fabric to wick sweat with zippers at the neck and underarm area to vent air as you heat up.
The more you run outdoors, the more you’ll learn your own preferences.
LIGHT IT UP
With limited daylight, chances are you’ll be running in the dark.
Wear reflective, fluorescent gear and don’t be shy about lighting yourself up like Clark Griswold’s house.
Some others may recommend using a headlamp or carrying a flashlight.
BEFORE THE RUN
Move around inside enough to get the blood flowing without breaking a sweat.
Run up and down your stairs, use a jump rope, or do a few yoga sun salutations.
Winter running is more about maintenance miles than speed.
In very cold weather, look for “inversions” or places that are elevated and where the air will be warmer.
If you can’t run in the middle of the day when the temperatures are warmest, run twice a day and get the same amount of mileage. For example, instead of doing one six-mile run, split it into two three-mile runs.
Your core body temperature drops as soon as you stop running.
To avoid a lingering case of the chills, change your clothes — head to toe — as soon as you can.
Put a warm, dry toboggan over wet hair.
Drink something hot — a steamy beverage is great, but hearty soup does double duty by refueling your protein and sodium stores while also warming you up.
RACE SOMEWHERE WARM
Having a winter race to aim for is great for keeping you motivated to train through the fall. Even better motivation? Knowing race day will be free from snow and ice.
In a normal year, Southern summers can be brutal for runners, but during the winter, temperatures are moderate enough to go after a personal record — which is part of the reason Florida alone offers many marathons in the colder months.