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Fitness in All Forms: It's freezing out, but you can still get a hot bod

Posted by Alex Pearlman  January 14, 2012 09:52 AM

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running in the snow winter running.jpgBy Kristen McManus

The Dark Ages are upon us, and I for one am not feeling very down with it. Nighttime by 4:30 p.m., chilly commutes, slightly frigid air -- a welcoming environment for a breezy outdoor workout, no?

No. Despite a mild December, a few days (note: seriously,?a few) during these first couple weeks of 2012 have made me consider carrying a fire-lit torch around for warmth, sleeping on the floor next to my space heater, and breaking my pledge to never buy flannel-lined pajama jeans. No doubt about it, no one wants to be outside -- let alone run outside -- during Boston's winter months.

But for those of us feeling a bit large and not-in-charge post-holidays, a cold weather workout may be just what our guilty consciences?ordered. Here are six tips -- beyond the usual 'wear a scarf and gloves' -- that will help you feel differently about trotting around in below-freezing temps.

Join a running group. I’ve been on teams my entire life, and honestly, knowing that others are experiencing the same brutality and pain makes me feel better, you know? Also, it’s fun. Popular Boston-area running groups include South Boston’s L Street Running Club, the Boston Hash House Harriers (who market themselves as “a drinking club with a running problem”), The Most Informal Running Club Ever, and the Monday night Lululemon Running Club.

Add some pre-run indoor fitness exercises to your routine. Before throwing myself into the dark and stormy night, I often like to do some pilates-type moves or push-ups to get my blood flowing; I actually get most of them from the fitness section of Pinterest.

Wear moisture-wicking materials. My first instinct when going on a winter run is to layer as many things as possible. And while that’s good, and layers are important, the type of material is most important. Soggy clothes = a frozen sports bra.

Be all zen and drink a hot tea. Just as many morning runners like to down a coffee before their loop, I believe having hot tea before an evening run can warm your spirit -- and your stomach. Also, according to Runner’s World, “many herbals are caffeine-free, making them a good option for runners who want to warm up after a cold run but still be able to fall asleep easily at night.”

Put hand warmers in your running gloves. Hand warmers are an excellent help in keeping your extremities toasty; during the 2010 NYC Marathon, I used them to keep my hands from going blue in the early stages of the race. You can find hand warmers at most running supply and sporting goods stores.

Run in a place where there are shops -- and run into one for a nice little break. This tip is not doctor-recommended -- and probably the equivalent of me telling someone, “Stuff some of those free rolls in your purse for later!” -- but it’s a shady trick that works. Can’t hardly breathe? Pop into a CVS and casually stroll an aisle, and then get back to it. A heater break helps you stretch out your runs.

Happy frozen trails to you adventurous winter worshippers -- and be careful on those dark pre- or post-work runs!

What are your tips for a warm, successful winter run?

Check back to TNGG Boston each month for a new 'Fitness in All Forms' as Kristen explores the many options for exercising in Boston.

Photo by lululemon athletica (Flickr)

About Kristen -- A few things about me: I work out so I can eat, I love coffee and magazines, and I am currently a copywriter. After college, a semester abroad, and grad school, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should definitely live in Paris. Fitness, yoga, and general wellness are important to me. And I believe that if you find work that involves your passion, you’ll never have to work again. Twitter: @mcmanuskristen

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