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22 Genius Running Hacks For When It's Cold AF Outside

Because windburn, chafing, and frostbite are really not ideal.

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Running in the cold actually isn’t so bad...if you're prepared.

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But before you get outside, make sure to check with your doctor to figure out what's best for your body — especially if you have asthma. And if you ever feel pain, numbness, faint, disoriented, or abnormally fatigued, stop exercising, get inside, and seek medical attention immediately.

1. Dress like it's 15 degrees warmer than it actually is.

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One of the toughest parts about running outside is choosing the best outfit for the weather, says Jason Fitzgerald, USATF-certified coach, speaker, and the founder of Strength Running. He suggests dressing like it's about 15 degrees warmer than it actually is outside to account for how your body will warm up once you start running. The first few minutes might be a little chilly, but you'll be glad you're not overdressed once you heat up.

If you need help deciding exactly what gear to wear, check out this handy tool from Runnersworld.com, which will advise you on your outfit selection depending on your the temperature, weather conditions, time of day, etc.

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2. Just go ahead and accept that you're not going to be running your best times.

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To survive outdoor winter runs, you need realistic expectations. "You have to realize that if it's snowing and freezing outside, you're not going to be running your fastest times or running at the pace you normally do," he says. "The elements are going to slow you down, and if you push yourself too hard you're going to risk getting seriously injured. Just focus on getting your miles in and be proud of yourself when you do."

3. On windy days, avoid running through large open areas.

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Freezing wind = your enemy. And running through open areas without trees or buildings to give you shelter will not only slow your run, but could also give you painful windburn, AND make it way harder for your body to keep warm (aka making you fucking miserable).

4. Do a quick warm-up indoors before you leave the house.

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Fitzgerald says he tells his runners to do a 5- to 10-minute dynamic warm-up before heading outside because it raises your heart rate, gets your body temperature up, and increases your blood flow — all of which will help your body prep for the cold weather.

You can find an example of a dynamic warm-up here.

5. Layer strategically.

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"Layering is king when it comes to making outdoor runs bearable," Fitzgerald says. He suggests wearing three layers on your torso: a base layer — something made of sweat-wicking fabric like synthetic or polyester material, a middle layer — which serves as a buffer, could be fleece if it's really cold, or it could be another synthetic fabric, and an outer layer — which should be windproof and waterproof so it protects you from the elements, giving you a more comfortable run. Depending on how cold it is, lighter layers might be fine, but if it's really freaking cold, plan on using some heavier pieces.

6. Get a couple cheap AF sweatshirts you can wear till you warm up and either toss away or stash to get on the way back.

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While you can try your best to prepare for the weather, it's tough to know how hot or cold you're going to be if the conditions change. Maybe the sun will unexpectedly go away or you'll heat up faster than you'd anticipated, or you end up going slower or faster than you'd thought you might. Having a cheap outer layer that you can discard on the go (or, if you're running an out-and-back loop, that you can pick up on your way back) is a great way to solve this problem.

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7. Buy a great pair of cold-weather running tights.

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If you're serious about running outdoors, Fitzgerald says it's smart to invest in form-fitting, durable tights designed specifically with wind-resistant, moisture-wicking, or waterproof material. He recommends Under Armour ColdGear tights.

8. Consider wearing windproof briefs.

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That freezing winter wind can be killer on the goods. If it's colder than 40 degrees, Fitzgerald recommends thermal, wind-resistant underwear like these made by Saucony or these made by The North Face.

9. Make sure your ears and fingers are covered.

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Your extremities are a pain in the ass to keep warm because it takes more time for your body to pump enough blood out to those areas.

Fitzgerald suggests wearing a beanie or a headband that covers your ears, and waterproof and wind-resistant running gloves. You can even add running mittens over your those if it's cold AF.

10. And run with Little Hotties in your gloves if you need the extra heat.

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Carrying disposable, self-warming Little Hotties in your gloved hands (they shouldn't come into direct contact with your skin) will keep you toasty when its mega cold and super windy.

11. If it's been snowing, plan to run along well-plowed and salted routes.

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"Something I found really helpful when I was coaching in Boston, is to find out where the city is proactive about shoveling the snow and salting the streets, and to stick to those routes," Fitzgerald says. "You'll begin to learn the city's plow schedule and can plan your runs that way."

Some city websites will include their snow and ice information, and you can always call the the appropriate municipal department to find out.

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12. But if it's icy, opt for an indoor workout.

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It may seem obvious, but there is a much higher chance that you'll hurt something if you're trying to run in the snow or on icy sidewalks. So when in doubt, skip the outdoor run and work out indoors. If you're looking for options, here are a few bodyweight workouts you can literally do anywhere. And if you can't bear to not run, try one of these quick treadmill workouts.

14. Make sure you're rehydrating, eating a small meal or snack, and taking a shower directly after cooling down.

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It's a lot harder to see how much you're sweating when you're running in the cold than when you're running in the heat, and that can be dangerous if you're not hydrating enough. Make sure post-run that you're getting enough fluids and refueling with a small snack before warming your body back up with a hot shower.

15. Wear wool socks.

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Wool is great for winter running because it's great at absorbing moisture and doesn't get cold when wet the way cotton does.

Check out this guide from Runner's World so you know the right moisture-wicking socks (temperatures and thickness) to look for.

16. Protect your face by wearing a balaclava.

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Fitzgerald says not only will a balaclava protect your face (where your skin is really sensitive) from the harsh wind, but it will also help warm the air your breathing in so that it's not as harsh on your lungs.

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17. And apply Vaseline to exposed skin when the temps are way frigid.

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Fitzgerald recommends applying it to the exposed areas of your face or body (or even under your face protection and running gear) to better fight off windburn and chafing.

18. Consider buying winterized running sneakers that are made with Gore-Tex.

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Gore-Tex is a waterproof, breathable fabric that is great for protecting your feet from the slush and the snow. And warm and dry feet = a much happier run.

If you're looking to log serious mileage this winter season, you can also invest in Yaktrax or NANOspikes, which are basically like snow tires for your feet.

19. Or try wearing trail running shoes.

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They may run on the expensive side, but Fitzgerald says wearing trail-running shoes can really save your body from injury when running on uneven surfaces — liked packed snow and pavement that's been displaced by potholes and plowing.

20. Use Body Glide or nipple tape to avoid chafing.

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Nothing kills a runner's high like extremely chafed nipples. Fitzgerald says to take precaution by applying anti-chafing products like Body Glide and NipEAZE to your nipples, the insides of your thighs and armpits, and wherever else your skin will be rubbing up against other skin or clothing uncomfortably. It will save you a lot of unnecessary agony.

21. Buy something like wireless ear warmers so you can keep your ears toasty and never have to deal with pesky earbuds again.

Having to constantly readjust your earphones while you're wearing gloves or when your hands are freezing is a complete pain in the ass, and can be avoided by purchasing something like these wireless ear warmers that will keep your ears from freezing and get rid of your earbud problem.

22. Listen to your body. Closely.

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When you're running in the cold, you need to pay extra close attention to your body, Fitzgerald says. You should be on the lookout for things like numbness in your ears or fingers and common symptoms of frostbite (like a pricking sensation in your skin, clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness, and bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin) and hypothermia (symptoms include intense shivering, slurred speech, and loss of coordination). If you experience any of these things make sure you get to a doctor immediately.

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