The dreaded "W" word is upon us in Minnesota. The change in weather means training in cold, snow, and ice -- at least it does for my Midwestern readers. The temperature was 4 degrees on my eleven mile run this morning.
However, just because it's cold doesn't mean you have to abandon your outdoor training. There's lots you can do to have a successful winter of training and maintaining or even improving your fitness. Here's some tips to make winter running successful (and maybe even enjoyable):
Dress for Success
Some essentials here are warm socks, gloves, long sleeve tech shirts, and a windbreaker. If you're going to run in very cold weather, a face covering of some sort is helpful. Make sure you avoid anything cotton. Runner's World has a nice tool to help you decide "What to Wear" based on the temperature and conditions.
Traction for Your Shoes
If you're looking for cheap, effective traction, trying turning some of your older running shoes into screw shoes. Detailed instructions can be found here, and more information on screw shoes can be found here. There are also several other traction options that can be placed on your shoes, such as Yaktrax Run. I find screw shoes work best on packed, shallow snow and ice, and Yaktrax work better on more powdery snow.
Lights and Reflective Gear
Winter means fewer daylight hours. With that in mind, it's good to have reflective gear and a headlamp. If you're running in a city with lots of streetlights, you're not going to need a real powerful headlamp. I mainly use mine to shine at cars in intersections so I know they can see me and won't roll into me through a stop sign. There are many options for reflective gear--hats, pants, jackets, or a reflective vest you can put on over your clothes all work well.
Start You Running Into the Wind
Try to start out the first part of your run going into the wind. It's a much more pleasant experience to be a little cold at the start of your run and finish with the wind at your back. Also, if you start with the wind you may get sweaty and warm, potentially making the run back a cold, miserable experience.