Edmonton winters can be long and harsh. Some take to the indoors to stay active and run on the treadmills at their local gym. Others simply suck it up and brave the great outdoors for something running on a treadmill can never replicate. The cold air in your lungs and on your face, and the exhilaration of the sights in the river valley at sunrise when it’s just you and a few other determined runners getting outdoors for their winter running experience.

If you keep up your outdoor training in the winter, you know that you need to switch up your routine a bit if you are going to stay injury free and healthy during those cold months. New winter running tights and layers are a must to keep the cold out and to stay dry. Now is the time to check your wardrobe and running accessories to make sure when the coldest part of winter comes, you’ll be ready.

Today, we’re sharing the YEG Fitness top tips for outdoor running in Edmonton winters:

1. Mix it up. Routine can get boring and when you’re bored, you’re not getting the most out of the run. Meet some new friends, try a new trail or neighbourhood, join a running club (the Running Room and MEC have some starting all the time). Keep it fun and you won’t even notice the temperature. Well…. Not much anyway.

2. Dress for the cold. That means layers to allow warm air to insulate you. Choose fabrics made of synthetic material to wick moisture away from the skin. Materials like cotton trap moisture causing you to get cold. Take care to not “over-dress” however. If you get too warm, simply remove a layer. A basic outdoor running wardrobe should include a running jacket, a few long sleeve shirts, running tights, a hat or headband and gloves. Like the tires for your car, you should choose proper footwear for winter running too. This will give you better traction and stability on the trails and sidewalks that haven’t been sanded or shovelled. Check these out.

3. Alter your stance while running. Try to keep your center of gravity lower to avoid a fall or strain if you happen to slip on the ice and also to adjust if you need to make a quick jump over a puddle of melted snow.

4. Make sure drivers and others can see you. It gets darker earlier and stays darker later. If you run on a regular schedule, it may be dark for your entire run during the winter months. Wear reflective clothing or attach flashing lights to your clothing to avoid being struck when crossing the street.

5. There’s a lot of thought about stretching and if it has any benefits to training or avoiding injury. When you are running outdoors, it is good to get your muscles loosened up prior to entering the cold. Do some dynamic stretching before heading outside. Bodyweight squats and jumps are good to get you limber and your muscles prepared for the exertion ahead.

6. Stay hydrated. You might not think about taking in water while running in the cold, but you’re loosing as much in cold weather as you are in warm weather and you need to replace those fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.

7. Protect your skin and your eyes from the effects of the sun and cold. Sunglasses will help to reduce the glare reflecting back off the snow. Alberta winters are cold, but they’re also full of blue skies (take that Vancouver). The cold dry air will also play havoc with your lips by drying them out. Use an SPF lip balm to keep them feeling good.

Hopefully these tips help keep you venturing into the great outdoors this winter. If you have any tips, please feel free to add them to our comment section below.