Running throughout the winter is a great way to stay in shape and maintain your circulation. It’s important, however, to remember that certain precautions must be taken in order to avoid injury and to get the most out of the experience. Because of road conditions and differences in temperature, it helps to have the foresight to purchase proper running gear and to monitor your body while exercising during the colder months.

Shoes are arguably the most important component to a runner’s wardrobe. For serious runners, having a separate pair of shoes for winter is essential because the traction and moisture of the road will be different than during warmer seasons. Breathable mesh that can dry quickly is important since it acts as a barrier against moisture buildup. Since wet socks can lead to discomfort and blisters as well as fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, it’s best to keep your feet as dry as possible. Trail running shoes are also a great choice for snow and ice conditions because of their deep tread grooves. This will cut down on potential falls and let you concentrate more on enjoying your run.

Running in the cold poses another problem because your body starts out cold, then heats up as you exercise which causes you to sweat, then it cools down quickly once you stop. Because of this, it’s important to dress in light layers of clothing that are made of breathable materials that dry quickly or can be easily removed. The key is to keep the sweat away from your body and to maintain as steady an internal temperature as possible.

Warming up with a pre-workout is more necessary in cold weather because you need to get blood circulation flowing to all parts of your body. When cold, your body will keep your internal organs warm first, so extremities and muscles need more blood flow in order to warm up properly. Without warming up, you run the risk of cramps and injuries that you might not notice until you’ve finished exercising.

Staying hydrated is just as important during the winter, even though you appear to not sweat as much due to the cold. Try to keep your water from freezing by keeping it as close to your body as possible. The warmer the water, the more energy your body has because it not only increases blood flow to your cells, your body doesn’t have to work to heat it up.