I’ll go through phases in the winter—like anyone—where the thought of working out outside is…no. Not gonna happen. But there have also been winters where I somehow motivate myself to wake up every morning at 5:30AM in the pitch black and head out in the subarctic Boston temperatures for a run like a complete psychopath. This winter has been split—I still run outside a couple times a week, but I also have been loving taking spin classes for an indoor cardio workout.
I get a lot of questions about tips for running outside—especially since it seems a good number of you, like me, have Raynaud’s. None of these are necessarily groundbreaking, but I wanted to share more about my current routine for running throughout the winter.
1. Warm-Up Beforehand
This is the biggest thing for me. Starting a run cold means my Raynaud’s might kick in, and if it does, it will often last throughout the entire run, even after I’ve warmed up and started sweating. I put on everything I’m going to wear, and then do a little mini-workout inside the house to get my blood pumping. Once I start getting uncomfortably hot, I head straight outside and start the run. I never even give my body the chance to become cold. Here are some examples of warm-up mini workouts I’ll do:
30 Mountain Climbers
5 Push Ups
30 High Knees
10 Squat Jumps
20 Plank Jacks
20 Jumping Jacks
2. Layer Up, But Don’t Overdo It
What works best for me is:
- Cotton sports bra: OVERSHARE WARNING—Raynaud’s doesn’t just affect my fingers and toes; it’s actually the most painful in my nipples. * Clicks unsubscribe from Pumps & Iron* Spandex material rubbing against them exacerbates the issue—I find cotton sports bras are the way to go.
- Under Armour ColdGear long sleeve
- Zip-up w/ high neck: Right now I’m wearing this Lululemon one.
- Warm leggings: I got a pair of Nike Hyperwarm leggings for Christmas and highly recommend them—they live up to their name. If you do plan on buying a pair, get your normal size. Typically with Nike clothing, I have to size down, but the warm lining in these leggings make them run true to size.
- Ear warmer
- Gloves: I find “running” gloves are far too thin to protect against my Raynaud’s, so I just wear normal winter gloves or mittens. Kinda makes me look like I have Incredible Hulk hands, but whatever, it works.
- Cotton socks & my Nike Free running shoes: As long as I warm up before my run, I don’t find that I need extra-warm socks to protect my toes.
3. Cotton is Your BFF
*Update: SOFT fabrics are your BFF (fleece, wool, cotton, etc.) You probably inferred this from the last tip, but the first layer of clothing touching any body part that is susceptible to Raynaud’s shouldn’t be a spandex material (fleece/wool-lined gloves, cotton socks, cotton sports bra). Same goes for post-run—when your body temperature is dropping back down, change into soft clothing. I couldn’t tell you why exactly this helps, but the fabric makes a huge difference for me in preventing a Raynaud’s episode and also in soothing one that’s already flared up.
4. Have a Killer Playlist to Look Forward To
A long run to a kickass playlist is my idea of a therapy session. If I have good music to look forward, it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, I honestly want to go running. I recently reorganized my Spotify playlists into Workout Music and Current Workout Playlist, and am loving this little system. Once I get sick of a song on my Current playlist, I move it to the Workout Music “archives.” The result is a constantly fresh playlist for each workout, as well as a growing collection of older songs that are still great, but just need a little rest.
5. Change Out of Your Workout Clothes before Your Body Cools Down
After my run, I’ll stretch, and then immediately change out of everything I ran in. Hygiene aside, you don’t want your body temperature to drop in sweaty, damp clothing—it’ll make you extra cold (the sweat-wicking material of most workout gear doesn’t help here).
If I stay in my workout clothing too long post-run, I find that my Raynaud’s will kick in—even though I’m inside a warm home (so annoying!). The best prevention is to change immediately, shower off, and then put on warm, cotton/fleece clothing.
Aaaand I’ll leave you with some pretty pictures from my winter runs that I’ve Instagrammed (@nicoleperr):
Do you have any tips to add for running outside in the winter?