Preparing for a Winter Race

Brad Schaeffer, D.P.M.
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Dr. Brad Schaeffer is an expert in foot and ankle pain, treatment and surgery. Learn more about our doctor..

Running in the winter is much different than running in warmer weather. The whole environment is different. The air is colder, the streets have snow on them, and you tend to have more layers to keep you warm.

winter running

It is essential to prepare your body and mind for a winter race so you can have a safe and healthy run.

1. Make sure you have the right equipment.  You want to make sure you have the proper shoes for running outside when the streets are wet, icy and snow packed. Some running shoes, especially "minimalist" shoes, do not have the traction needed to grip the road and keep you safe. Make sure you research the area of the race and know the conditions of the road and the forecasted weather.

2. Dress in layers! Once you are out on the race, you are too late to load on another shirt or gloves. Be sure to wear layer so you can peel them off as you run. Some experts have even suggested dressing as if it is 15-20 degrees warmer outside so you don't over heat. Wearing clothes with moisture wicking technologies will help to keep you dry as you run.

3. Leave extra time for your warm up. It's cold outside! Just like your car, your body will need extra time to warm up before a race or run outside. Be sure to give yourself extra time to warm up and stretch. In addition, Dr. Wishnie advises to warm up your body for 12 minutes before you stretch. You never want to stretch cold muscles.

4. Practice, practice, practice. While the cold weather and snow covered roads make it easy to choose your treadmill for training runs, you need to spend time getting used to the cold before the race. You can train most days on your treadmill, but be sure to take your runs outside at least 2-3 times a week so your body can become prepared for the run ahead.

See a Doctor for Any Injuries

Winter running is not easy. You should work yourself up to running in cold or freezing temperatures. Follow these tips as a guideline. If you have any pain or injuries, make sure you see a doctor immediately.