How to Safely Train for Sports Outdoors in the Winter

By Brenna English-Loeb , last updated December 1, 2011

Depending on the climate you live in, knowing how to safely train for sports outdoors in the winter can be essential. Staying in shape during the winter months can be difficult. Despite unhelpful weather and the long holiday season, there is no reason to pack on the pounds. This guide will help you maintain your workout while pointing out dangerous activities to avoid.

Consider Your Regular Routine

The first thing to think about is what your regular routine is like. Do you only exercise outdoors? Or do you alternate between that and a gym? You may have to be more flexible in order to work around bad weather and also the restriction of daylight hours. If you run on roads frequented by motor traffic, it is important to remember that even at twilight you can be very difficult to see. Try to arrange your schedule so that you run outside during the middle of the day when it is brightest and warmest.

If you must run at the beginning or end of the day, invest in reflective equipment that will aid vehicles in avoiding you. Many companies make light-weight reflective vests for runners, as well as headlamps. For example, Athleta's Xinglet Reflective Vest by Amphipod will not impair movement, but will also alert drivers to your presence..

Dress to Keep Yourself Warm

There are other types of equipment necessary for winter exercise. Even if you don't think it will get cold enough in your area, it may be wise to invest in something more serious, just in case. If you aren't going to buy any new spandex, just remember that cotton will only make you colder once you begin to sweat. Also, the repetitive sound of wind pants during a run can get incredibly aggravating.

You only need a few articles of cold weather gear to work out in. Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt are great basics. Underarmour is a great place to look for such items. Underarmour's Ultra-Warm Long-Sleeve Crew will be sure to keep you warm, while not weighing you down. There are even cold weather socks that will block the breeze coming in from the vents in your sneakers. Gloves that have a fold-over pocket to become mittens are also very handy, as well as a pair of earmuffs.

Buy an Extra Pair of Sneakers

Lastly, you will want to consider buying another pair of sneakers. If you are going to be running through snow, your sneakers will be soaked after every work out. The best way to dry them is by stuffing them with newspaper overnight, but even so they may not be completely dry in time for your next work out. Alternating between two pairs of sneakers will ensure that you don't start out an already cold run with wet feet.

While you are exercising in snow, remember that with it comes ice. Injury is a very real threat during the winter. Try to work out in cleared areas, and always remain alert. A good way to improve your balance is to run with your legs under your body, as opposed to taking long strides that stretch your feet ahead of the rest of your mass. Cross-train to strengthen the muscles that support your knees and ankles so that if anything does happen, you will be somewhat prepared. And as always, take care of your body. You may want to ease into winter exercise until you're sure your body can handle it.

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