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The Winter Society

Cold weather running: Tips for Canadian winters

Cold weather running: Tips for Canadian winters

As winter sets in, some people will say it’s crazy to go running outside—after all, we live in Canada. But, winter running is not actually so tough, as long as you dress for the weather. Here’s how to safely maintain your running routine and have fun all winter long.

Pre-run routine

Drink a hot beverage shortly before you head out to warm up your body. Green tea is an excellent source of energy because of the amount of caffeine in it. However, since green tea is also a diuretic, be careful not to overdo it, or else you’ll end up constantly running to the washroom!

Going running on an empty stomach is not recommended, especially in cold weather. Eat at least two hours before your run. If you don’t have a lot of time, have a snack 15 minutes before your run. Choose simple foods that are high in carbohydrates and easy to digest, like bananas or grapes.

Do your warm-up exercises indoors for at least 5 minutes. This will increase your body temperature and prevent injury.

When you get outside, start running into a headwind. Your body will have to work harder, which means it will warm up faster. End your run on an easier note, with a tailwind pushing you from behind.

Stay hydrated! Drink water before, during and after your run. Carry your bottle inside your jacket to prevent it from freezing.

Dress for the weather

Forget your winter coat and boots. When you run, your body generates a lot of heat and you’ll quickly find yourself soaked in sweat if you bundle up in your regular winter gear. The secret to keeping heat and perspiration in check during intense physical activity? Dressing in layers. Layering is a very efficient way to regulate your body temperature.

Layer 1: The bottom layer should be like a second skin: thin, flexible and comfortable.  You’ll want to wear a top made with moisture-wicking fabric and, ideally, anti-friction flatlock seams. A merino base layer is an excellent choice. Merino wool stores heat in the fibres, absorbs moisture on your skin and lets the wetness evaporate. It can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water and still stay dry to the touch. Cotton takes a long time to dry, so avoid wearing it.

Layer 2: The middle layer should act as an insulator but still make it possible for moisture to escape. A long-sleeved fleece jacket or pullover can do the job, but you can also go with a second, slightly thicker merino wool layer. Choose a fitted shirt that’s big enough to wear over your base layer but still allows a full range of motion.

Layer 3: The top layer should protect you from the elements. Go with a windbreaker or lightweight, breathable shell that wicks away moisture. Ideally, you should be able to fold it up compactly in case you get too hot. Down can be an excellent option because it’s compact and light, but keep in mind that the feathers lose their effectiveness when wet.

For your lower body, wear running tights or pants that will protect you from the wind or cold while still letting moisture escape. Our Active Sport base layer bottoms for men and women are specifically designed to adjust to your body and manage moisture. If you need to, you can wear them underneath your running shorts to keep your derrière extra warm!

As the days get shorter, makes sure your running gear has reflective detailing so you’re always visible.

Protect your extremities

They say 70% of body heat leaves through the extremities—meaning, the head, hands and feet, which incidentally can also easily freeze. Protect your extremities with KOMBI accessories, specifically designed for harsh Canadian winters.

Hands: The Wrap is a lightweight glove with GORE-TEX InfiniumTM, which is an excellent barrier against the wind. Light and flexible, the Wrap easily wicks away moisture and moulds to the shape of your hand so you still have full use of your fingers.

Head: Protect your head and ears with a comfortable toque or beanie—one that’s not too thick, too warm and doesn’t obstruct your vision. Our ACTIVE WARM Helmet Beanie is the ideal choice.  With its smooth brushed interior and reflective logo, it’s the ultimate hat for winter sports. Wearing a balaclava or neck warmer helps warm up the air you breathe and reduces the risk of irritating your lungs and throat. It’s also recommended to breath in through your nose and out through your mouth—this warms up the air and adds moisture to it before the air goes into your lungs.

Feet: Wearing knee-high socks can improve your blood flow, protect you from the cold and prevent your ankles from being exposed to the wind and snow. Our merino wool socks were specially designed to keep your feet toasty warm. We recommend our Hybrid Alpaca wool socks, since this type of wool naturally repels water. And, our Hybrid Primaloft® socks are made of ultra-fine polyester fibres to control moisture. They are lightweight, soft and quick drying.

Final word of advice

Run at your own pace. In winter, road and sidewalk conditions and the weather can have an impact on your performance. Be sure to listen to your body, recognize your limits and stop if the task becomes to difficult. Remember: health and safety first.

Have fun this winter!

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