Runners are a hardy breed. They like to brag about how they still wore shorts even after the thermometer dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, how they splashed their way through a sudden downpour or how they kept running on a sizzling summer day.
I’ve run during rain storms, light snow storms and warm summer days for several years now without any problems. I know from experience that running can be done safely in almost any kind of weather. However, runners need to be prepared for all types of weather. They may need to postpone their workout or take their workout inside on a tread mill during severe weather.
Running in the Rain
Almost every runner gets caught in the rain sometimes, and it’s usually not a big deal. Most of the time, it’s a matter of splashing through the puddles or avoiding them. Running in the rain can be refreshing on a hot summer’s day.
However, stop your run and seek shelter immediately if the rain turns into sleet or freezing rain. These weather conditions make the sidewalks, trails and roads too slippery to run safely on.
Another danger sign is the rumble of thunder. If you hear thunder or see flashes of lightning, stop and seek shelter immediately. Don’t get caught out in the open during a thunderstorm. Last year, 23 people were killed by lightning strikes, according to the National Weather Service.
Don’t get caught in the rain if the temperature drops to 45 degrees or lower. When it’s that cold outside, the risk of hypothermia (low body temperature) rises, according to Web Md. When in doubt, run inside that day or take a day off from working out.
Running in Hot Weather
Hot weather can be even more dangerous to runners than cold weather. Running during the hottest part of the day can cause heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, according to Web Md.
During hot weather, avoid running during the hottest parts of the day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Instead, run early in the morning or in the evening after the sun has started to go down. My summer running rules are simple. I do not start any runs later than 8:30 a.m. or earlier than 7 p.m.
Wear light colored clothes. Don’t be too modest to run in shorts and a running bra if you’re a woman or to run shirtless if you’re a man. This isn’t about showing off your body; it’s about staying cool and safe. Just don’t forget the sunblock!
Make sure you drink enough water during hot weather. Drink water before, during and after your workout. Carry a small water bottle with you so you can sip it as you run.
Running in Snow and Cold Weather
Just like running during a light rain, running during a light snow is not a big deal. But if the snow becomes heavy, you should call it quits for the day. Heavy snow can make it hard for you to see where you’re going and make the trails, sidewalks or roads you’re running on slippery.
Another problem is running on surfaces which have not been shoveled. Unfortunately, many people are either slow to shovel their sidewalk or just don’t bother doing it. A better option might be to run in a public park. Most park employees do a good job of keeping the trails plowed and salted for runners and walkers.
Be careful of hypothermia and frostbite on cold days. Wear a hat and a ski mask or scarf to cover your face. Any exposed skin could get frostbitten.
Dress in layers to keep warm. Make sure your layers are lightweight and easy to carry or tie around your waist if you get warm and need to shed some layers.
Most people overdress for cold weather. They forget that they may be cold during the warmup and the first five minutes of the run but will quickly heat up as their run progresses. That’s why you should avoid wearing heavy jackets and gloves and sweatshirts. I like to wear light gardening gloves to keep my hands warm but not sweaty.
Wear a t-shirt and a light jacket or windbreaker over the t-shirt. Some people wear a short-sleeved t-shirt, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a light jacket over that. That’s too many layers for me. But if you are sensitive to cold, you may need that third layer.
Most winter runners wear sweat pants. Some prefer to wear shorts. You’d be surprised how cold it can get before some runners switch to shorts.
Just to be on the safe side, wear tights with your shorts when the weather gets cold. That way, you’ll be safe from frostbite but still able to brag about how you ran in shorts during 40 degree weather.
Understanding Heat-Related Illness: WebMd
Hypothermia and Cold Weather: An Overview WebMd
Lightning Strikes, National Weather Service
My own experiences as a runner
This article was based on one I originally published on Wikinut