Weighing In: Cold-Weather Jogging Solutions

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So it’s not exactly a winter wonderland here in Happy Valley quite yet, but the temps have definitely started to dip into “It’s cold out so, oops, looks like I can’t go running today!” territory.

And if you’re using fallen leaves and foggy forecasts as an excuse to go into early hibernation, you’re about to be very resentfu– we mean thankful! Just for you, Valley chatted with Penn State jogging instructor Dr. Andrew Hardyk about how to ditch the excuses and get the most out of your jogging workout, even in the midst of Ugg season.

What to know before you go

You loved jogging (as much as it is possible to love jogging) over the summer, but now that it’s getting a little chillier outside, lacing up your sneakers doesn’t seem quite as alluring.

“There’s no reason not to exercise all year round,” says Hardyk. “Jogging is a great mode of exercise, regardless of the weather. People shouldn’t be put-off by running in the cold.”

Hardyk says that although people tend to find it a little more difficult to breathe at first when jogging in colder weather, they generally get used to the feeling and that there’s no long-term damage.

To make sure you’re staying safe as the temperatures drop, it’s important to pay attention to just how cold it is (wind chill is a real thing) and to plan accordingly.

“Maybe plan to run just a little bit shorter or a little less or slower than you might otherwise,” says Hardyk. “Don’t push quite as hard as you normally would.”

And when it starts to get really cold, Hardyk says you should make sure you have a route you know well and know you can handle before pounding the pavement.

Gearing-up

As much as you might think throwing your bulkiest sweatshirt over a tank and leggings is going to keep you warm during your run, according to Hardyk, wearing multiple layers of lighter clothing will give you the option to remove clothing (Oolala!) as your body begins to heat up.

However, getting your blood pumping and your heart rate jumping is going to leave you a little sweaty, making clothes with wicking technology a must.

“What you don’t want is that layer of moisture,” says Hardyk, recommending a spandex base-layer as a great alternative to a long-sleeved cotton tee,which tends to absorb sweat. “[Spandex] wicks moisture, plus you can just throw a t-shirt over it and you’ll feel like you’re wearing more layers even though you only have two on.”

Be sure to cover up your extremities by keeping a pair of gloves on-hand (literally) and to top it all off with a hat (literally).

“Even just a ball cap on a cold day will keep you warmer than if you wore no hat at all,” says Hardyk, pointing out that ear coverage is especially important as the temperatures begin to drop.

Before and after

“As the temperature goes down it gets harder to warm up, and the faster you go, the more you need to get warmed up,” says Hardyk. “If you start out sprinting, you’re pushing your muscles to their extremes, and if you’re muscles aren’t warmed up because of the cold, that could potentially be a problem.”

Warming up, either inside before starting your workout or simply taking it slow when you get started outside, is a non-negotiable when dealing with cold weather.

After your jog, you’re going to want to practice some static stretches, which help will help to bring down muscle temperature and prevent future injury.

“When it’s cold out, your muscles are going to cool down quicker,” Hardyk warns. “It might make more sense to finish your run, come inside, and then stretch.”