When the temperature starts to drop outside, it's easy to cozy up on the couch with a blanket and a juicy novel. While you should definitely make time for these kinds of quintessential Fall activities, that doesn't mean your fitness routine has to fall by the wayside. We may have entered sweater weather, but you can still fit in a killer workout.
Whether you're a veteran runner or a beginner who is still getting acquainted with the sport, you could probably use a few pointers when it comes to taking your cardio outside. POPSUGAR chatted with Michael Olzinski, MS, Purplepatch endurance coach and Equinox run coach, who gave us several pro tips that will help you stay on top of your running game this Fall.
Start With a Good Warmup
It's much harder to get in the sweaty swing of things when it's chilly outside. That's why Mike said, "You need to get your heart rate up in the warmup. This will reduce your risk of tightness and injury." Rather than jumping straight into your run, Mike suggests you "do some exercises to really get your core body temperature nice and high." Think high knees, air squats, burpees, and even jump rope. "Even if you have a light, easy run, spend five to 10 minutes to lubricate your muscles and joints," he recommended.
Get the Right Gear
"This is not a time to try to be as light as possible, so get that extra warm top or those shoes that are a few ounces heavier in order to keep your feet nice and warm," Mike said. He says even if your pace is a little bit slower than usual, it's worth it because you'll keep yourself warm and your joints supple. "Gloves are a must have; any basic runner gloves can be a game changer," he continued. "And if you need some glasses, make them lighter, amber or yellow lenses so that you can have a bit of a brighter viewpoint."
This is also a "great time to find a nice headlamp to see where you are going," since there is less sunlight in the mornings and evenings at this time of year. "It just gives you more confidence when you have a bit less light and also really lets others know you are out there."
Plan Your Route Ahead of Time
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at how easily this slips your mind as you're lacing up your running shoes. "Be ready for more darkness," Mike warned. "Have some good routes planned that you know well so you are feeling comfortable and safe." Instead of just winging it and potentially getting lost in the dark, put in a few minutes of prep time. You'll likely be able to run longer and harder if you don't have to lend any brainpower to where you're going.
Don't Let the Cold Be an Excuse to Not Run
"Running through the Winter is important!" Mike told POPSUGAR. "Remember, consistency is always the winner, and to spend two to three months with no running whatsoever will lead you to more difficulty getting to the point where you feel good in the new year." Mike says you don't have to push yourself to the limit and "test your distance and endurance," but keeping a consistent running schedule in the cold season will at the very least help you maintain your fitness — and then you can really reach for those big goals when everything starts to defrost (and the holidays come to a close).
Take Care of Your Body to Prevent Injury
You shouldn't necessarily be worried about getting injured when you're running in the cold, but "the cold is like any other weather condition: if you act like it isn't there, it can have negative effects." Mike advised, "Within reason, the cold should only be a sign for you to pay some attention to your body, your effort, and your warmups."
Take the time to stretch after every run and invest your energy in warming up properly. Both of these activities will "get that blood circulating throughout your body." Also consider doing some mobility in your downtime, like using massage balls to relieve the bottom of your feet or a foam roller to loosen up your hamstrings. "The biggest issue with cold is that your blood will generally shunt into the warmer parts of your body," Mike said. In other words, the blood will naturally flow from your feet and legs into your core, so you have to spend some extra time taking care of these parts after you've finished up your run.
Product Credit: Outdoor Voices top and pants