Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) encourages runners to follow these tips for staying safe while running in cold and snowy conditions. Instead of running outside in frigid or snowy weather, seek out alternatives such as the treadmill, indoor track, or cross train (row, spin, bike trainer, stairs, elliptical, swim, etc.)
If you do go out:
• Forget the headphones. Your ears may help you avoid dangers your eyes cannot see. Wet and wintery conditions may weaken tree limbs; hearing the crack of the tree limb before it falls may save you a trip to the ER. If you do use a headset, use only one earpiece or invest in a wireless bone conduction headset.
• Avoid running on the road in snowy conditions. Drivers have decreased ability to maneuver and stop as well as decreased visibility with snow piled up at curbs.
• If you run in early morning or evening, wear bright colors, reflective items, and use a light (headlamp or flashlight). You need to be seen, but you also need to see the road. Even carrying a small flashlight can prevent you from stepping into a pothole.
• Wear layers. Sweat-wicking clothing should be closest to your skin followed by warmer items, with a wind-resistant layer on top. Hats, gloves, and gaiter (for nose and face) are a must. Wear wool socks. Even glasses or sunglasses offer some protection for the eyes and face.
• Warm up inside first. A few jumping jacks can increase your internal temperature to keep you warm from the start. Do your regular warmup routine inside to get your joints lubricated before stepping out into the cold.
• Protect your skin. Apply face lotion, hand lotion, and lip balm. Use something like Body Glide on your nose and areas of your face to act as a protective barrier.
• Wear traction devices on your shoes or trail shoes. Better yet, slip on some snowshoes.
• Frostbite can set in within minutes of exposure in subzero temperatures. Be aware of weather conditions. An oncoming storm may quickly drop the temperature, putting you at risk for frostbite or hypothermia.
• Bring hydration. You can become dehydrated in cold weather.
• If you drive to a trail to run, bring a change of clothes or at least a heavy coat to put on when finished.
• Know where a shelter is on your route if the weather gets really bad.
• Do not ignore shivering. It is the first sign of your body losing heat and may lead to hypothermia. Seek out something warm to drink and get inside.
• Carry a cell phone with you. Be aware, however, that cell phone batteries die quicker in cold weather.
RRCA was used a source for these guidelines.