Running in Different Weather Conditions

April 14, 2015

Nate Vandervest, a running expert at Bellin Fitness, offers the following advice for running in a variety of weather conditions:

If you have spent much time in Wisconsin, you have seen every type of weather pattern — and probably run in many, as well. Here are some common weather conditions, and what you can do in each to have the best, most comfortable and safest run:

Cold Weather

I think winter has gotten longer and longer. This might be because the winter of 2014 was one of the coldest on record. Rest assured there are still ways to run outside in the cold.

The first thing I tell people is to invest in good running gear. There is some pretty amazing technical running attire out there, and having the right stuff can go a long way toward keeping you comfortable outdoors. If you are old enough to remember running in all cotton in winter, you know what a difference this can make. Technical gear wicks moisture away from the body, making for a warmer, more comfortable run. 

One thing to keep in mind when buying cold-weather gear is to look for items that are also reflective. You may need to run in the dark during winter, and you want to make sure drivers can easily spot you out on the road.

Once you have obtained the proper gear, make sure to dress in layers. Everyone is different and has a different cold tolerance, so it may take a bit of trial-and-error to discover what’s right for you. Think of every layer as adding an extra 15 degrees to the outside temperature.

You can also battle the elements by starting your run, if possible, heading into the wind. This helps you avoid having your sweat get cold and chill you on your way back.

Finally, because sidewalks and road surfaces may be less than ideal, you may wish to wear some sort of strap-on spikes or grippers to avoid slips and falls.

Hot Weather

We all know it can get pretty hot and humid in the summer. The No. 1 thing to remember when it gets hot out is to adjust your pace and slow down. Overheating in summer should be your biggest concern. 

To beat the heat, try to run in the early morning or later at night when things have cooled off.  Find shady roads or trails with trees that block the sun. Wear light-colored clothing and apply sunscreen, as being sunburned will greatly decrease your body’s ability to sweat and dissipate heat. 

Another trick is to start your run with the wind at your back so the wind in your face will cool you on the return trip.

Keep in mind that ideal racing temperatures are between 50 and 65 degrees, depending on the length of the race. The shorter the race, the cooler the ideal temperature will be. This is because you are moving faster, which leads to your body creating more heat. 

Rain

Rain can be a blessing and a curse. A nice downpour on a hot day can be refreshing, but logging many miles in the rain can lead to blisters and chafing. 

Try to stay dry as long as possible — especially if it’s cold outside. Hypothermia can set in very quickly in these conditions, so be cautious.

When it is warm and raining, be especially aware of blisters and chafing. Be prepared by using products such as Body Glide or Vaseline on your feet, groin and armpit areas to avoid these annoying conditions.

With a little preparation, you’ll be ready to run in any conditions. So get out there and enjoy!

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