4 ways to stay warm when training for a marathon in the winter

Posted at 12:02 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-05 16:32:46-05

Last February, I went out for a long run wearing several layers of clothing and a ski mask that covered most of my face.

Yeah, I looked a little weird. But I was in the thick of marathon training, the wind chills were in the low teens that day and I was scheduled to run 13 miles and didn’t want to do it on a treadmill. So I put the ski mask on (I’ve never actually worn it skiing, by the way.)

Follow Allison Bourg on Twitter @abourg_abc2 and like her on Facebook.

Now that it’s December and snow could be on the way (ugh), it’s time to think about how to train in inclement weather.

RELATED: Cold and snow on the horizon

If you don’t want to look like a bank robber when you’re out running, there are some other things you can do to stay warm and safe.

Dress warm, but not too warm.  “The rule of thumb is to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer,” Maine Track Club president Mark Grandonico told Runner’s World. You naturally get warmer as you run, and you don’t want to work up a sweat that will leave you chilled. Grandonico recommends layers of technical fabrics to wick sweat, with zippers at the neck and underarm area to let in air if you get hot.

Cover exposed layers as much as possible. reminds runners that a hat and gloves are mandatory once temperatures are below freezing.   Marathoner Jacquie Cattanach suggests covering exposed areas such as your face with Vaseline – no ski mask necessary.

Don’t forget to hydrate! Even when it’s cold out, you can get dehydrated. Dietician and exercise physiologist Dr. Felicia Stoler told that, in colder conditions, the air you breathe is drier, and your lungs have to work harder to humidify that air. And the harder you work, the more you need to drink, Stoler said.

If you're exercising for up to one hour, you can rehydrate with water alone. However, after an hour, add electrolytes and carbohydrates, she said.

There’s always the treadmill. This takes some serious mental toughness, especially if you’re doing a long run. When I was training for the Pittsburgh Marathon, I did 10-mile, 14-mile and 16-mile long runs all on the treadmill due to snow and ice on the ground that winter. I’m not going to lie, going for 16 miles on a treadmill sucks. But running a marathon takes a ton of mental fortitude and discipline and this will prepare you for that, guaranteed. Put on some music or a movie or your favorite TV show and just zone out.

Personally, I’m crossing my fingers for a mild winter as I kick off my training for the Charlottesville Marathon on April 1. After the last two winters, I said I’d never train for a spring marathon again, yet here I am.

How do you make sure to keep warm through winter training?

Download the ABC2 News app for the iPhone, Kindle and Android.