More Cold Weather Walking Tips From the 3-Day

While we may have spring on our minds, the truth is, many parts of the country will still be dealing with temps ranging from chilly to downright freezing for at least another month. And even though most of you probably aren’t really diving into any official 3-Day training, we know you’re eager to get moving. So here we go again with our cold weather training advice—some oldies but goodies, and some tips that are new to our list!

Thinking About Going Out to Walk? Do it! – By February, a lot of you will have spent the better part of the last 3-4 months cooped up inside while the world outside freezes. And no, you really don’t need to get serious about training for the 3-Day just yet, but the simple act of getting out and moving is great for your state of mind. The “winter blues” are a real thing, and exercise is indisputably proven to help elevate your mood. Get out, get the blood flowing, and who knows? Maybe when you get home, you’ll be super motivated to send out some fundraising emails or work on recruiting some teammates!

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Clothe Yourself Carefully – Before stepping outside, you might be inclined to bundle up in your down parka, but if you’re taking a walk, you will probably be better off dressing in lighter, thinner layers that you can unzip or shed as you go if you need to. Stay away from 100% cotton, which will trap moisture against your skin; you may be cold, but if you’re moving, you’re sweating, and the only thing worse than being really cold is being really cold and wet. Instead of cotton, dress in moisture-wicking fabrics for the layer of clothing closest to your skin. And don’t forget something to cover your head (a warm hat, or even your favorite 3-Day wrap).

Warm Up Inside – Going quickly from one warm location to another is one thing, but if you’re heading outside with the intention of exercising your body, it’s a good idea to warm that body up a little bit first. It doesn’t have to be elaborate (ideally, you won’t even break a sweat at this point), just get your muscles and joints moving for a few minutes so that you’ll be ready to transition more easily into your walking workout outside. You can march in place, walk up and down your staircase a few times, do a quick set of jumping jacks, or strike a few sun salutations.

See and Be Seen – If you’re out walking in a monochromatic setting (i.e., surrounded by white, brown or grey landscape), wear bright colors and/or reflective materials so you stand out against your environment. And if any part of your walk will be taking place outside of full daylight hours, invest in a head-lamp to make sure you can see where you’re going and other walkers, cyclists and pedestrians can see YOU. (That head-lamp will come in handy for late-night trips to the porta-potties in the 3-Day camp later in the year.)

Warm Your Digits – Even the most adequately-clothed walker can become miserable quickly if his or her hands are not kept warm. At minimum, wear gloves to keep your paws snug. Need a little extra warmth? One 3-Day coach swears by those chemical-activated hand and foot warmers, which are available in the camping section of any sporting goods store. They are a quick, inexpensive way to keep your fingers and toes toasty. They fit snugly inside your gloves (or even in your shoes) and will ease the shock of freezing temps on your extremities.

Save Your Skin – Cold air and wind can really do a number on exposed skin, so don’t forget to put on moisturizer before heading out. Sunscreen, too, is a must-have for training any day of the week, any time of the year. You may not feel the sun’s warmth, but its rays are still doing a number on your skin.

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Hydrate – Drinking water when it’s hot out is a no-brainer. You crave the cool water to quench the heat. It can be harder to remember to hydrate in the cold, but it’s no less essential when you’re exercising. If you normally carry your water in a fanny pack while you walk, think about holding it in your hand while walking in the cold, as an ever-present reminder to sip as you step.

Plan Your Route Wisely – Be certain that you’re walking someplace familiar, and pay close attention to the terrain with every step. If the sidewalks have not been cleared of ice and snow, walk in the street (obviously, this is not a good option for heavy traffic roads). Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back, and avoid walking on trails or back roads where you might lose your way. Getting lost is bad enough, but getting lost in freezing temps can be flat out dangerous.

Stay Indoors – Wait, you’re not off the hook for training! But if it’s just too nasty outside, find someplace indoors to get moving. While we don’t recommend that you do all of your 3-Day training on a treadmill, it’s a perfectly fine alternative to outdoor walking if you need it occasionally. No treadmill? Throw on your shoes and walk on an indoor track, through a shopping mall, or up and down the stairs in your office building. One of our coaches also suggested college campuses as places that often have large and/or interconnected buildings, and lovely, well-maintained grounds you can walk through.

Trust Your Gut – Don’t push yourself too hard. If your instincts (or your local weather advisories) tell you that it’s not safe or healthy to be exercising outside, or if you get started on a walk and something doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to call it off. Having you healthy and whole for the 3-Day is more important than getting that mile or two in during a cold snap.

Here’s hoping for warmer days ahead! If you have any great cold weather training tips that we missed, please share them in comments!

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