How to Run in the Cold

Cold Running Skin Care

When you're running in this kind of weather, you should wear gloves and a hat to protect your skin from frostbite.
When you're running in this kind of weather, you should wear gloves and a hat to protect your skin from frostbite.

You already know how important it is to protect your skin from the sun. But winter weather brings a whole host of other skin issues. The worst-case scenario is frostbite. Less dangerous but still damaging are the chapping and drying of the skin. Luckily, there are ways to avoid these problems.

But first, let's discuss how to protect your face from the winter sunlight. If you're running during the day, you'll need SPF 15 sunscreen or higher on your face and any other areas of your body that are exposed to the sun. Most moisturizers come with sunscreen built right in.

Guard your skin from the wind and cold and prevent mild frostbite by protecting it with a sports moisturizer. If you use a moisturizer specially made for athletes, you won't be as likely to sweat it off as you exercise. If certain areas of your face are particularly prone to chapping, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly for extra protection. And don't forget your lips! They'll easily dry out and become terribly chapped by extreme cold and wind. Apply a moisturizing lip balm with SPF every time you run.

Cold weather skin care doesn't end when your run does. You need to take care of your face after you arrive home as well. Wash your face with a gentle moisturizer with warm -- never hot -- water. And finally, apply a light moisturizer to keep your skin from drying out.

If you run in extreme cold, you may be at risk for frostbite on your extremities, usually your nose, ears or cheeks. There are typically four stages of frostbite:

  1. Early cold response is the first warning sign that you should come in out of the cold. Early cold response starts with a slightly painful and cold feeling to your skin. Your skin will also turn a reddish color.
  2. Frostnip comes after early cold response and causes your skin to become numb or slightly numb. It will also turn from red to a whitish color. At this point, you're probably approaching frostbite and should warm up as soon as possible.
  3. Superficial frostbite is when the skin is numb, soft and white. Any form of frostbite requires medical attention.
  4. Deep frostbite is very serious. Your skin will no longer be soft, but firm. Your tissues are actually freezing and, if not attended to, can blister and eventually die. This is a very serious condition and may be irreversible.

Now that your skin is protected, let's discuss how to keep the rest of your body in tip-top shape. We all know how important it is to keep hydrated during long, hot summer runs. But hydration during the cold winter months is equally important.