Tips for getting out the door for some foul-weather exercise

November 4, 2013 

STATESMAN FILE PHOTO

Just because you can see your breath when you step outside this time of year doesn't mean you have to go running for the gym when you want to exercise.

Here are some tips for keeping your workouts outside during the fall:

1. DON'T OVER THINK IT

Outdoor stores are packed with technical gear, much of it quite expensive, designed to keep you comfy and dry in unpleasant weather.

Just grab a jacket and maybe a hat. You don't need a bunch of those things out there.

2. STICK TO A SIMPLE LIST

You don't necessarily need the most expensive, cutting edge gear in the latest colors to exercise outside, but there are some good items to have:

• Head cover: A hat to keep rain out of your face or a helmet cover, skull cap or cycling beanie to stay warm on your bike. (Important style note: Unless you're a bike mechanic, cycling beanies should only be worn while you're riding.)

• Glasses: Eye protection is good any time of year to keep rain and road debris out of your eyes.

• Gloves.

• Layers: A jacket, pants and base layers are good to have on hand to allow you to layer up on cold days.

• Good footwear: Sure, maybe your usual running shoes are fine for a 5-mile run in the rain (especially if you're not wearing cotton socks - try merino wool). But what about a 2-hour bike ride? Shoe covers can help keep your feet warm when you ride.

3. BE SAFE

If your outdoor exercise takes you to the road to walk, run or bike, make sure you are visible. It can be difficult for motorists to see you on dark, gray days so dress accordingly. Colorful clothes, reflective fabrics, and lights (don't forget the rear lights) make you easier to spot.

And if your workouts take you on to the trails, keep in mind the days are short and getting shorter. Plan to be done before dark and take a light in case you aren't.

Give yourself a little extra time in poor weather and remember grates and painted markings on the road can be slippery when wet.

If you run with a dog, make sure it, too, is wearing something reflective.

4. TAKE CARE OF YOUR GEAR

Rain and road debris can shorten the life of a bike chain if you don't take care of it. You can get degreaser, lube and a chain cleaning tool for about $35. Also adding a fender can keep you and the person riding behind you a little drier.

5. STRETCH

Don't dash straight from your outdoor workout to the steaming shower. It's important to stretch after your workout no matter how tempted you are to skip it in favor of getting warm.

6. HAVE A PARTNER

For many people, the hardest part about exercising in nasty weather is getting out the door. The idea of leaving the comfort of home or a gym to splash through puddles can be intimidating. A workout buddy can be just the motivator to get you out there.

7. FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT

Most people aren't biking, walking and running outside when the weather gets poor. If you are, you must be tougher than most. Maybe that's not really true, but if you believe it, then it should be a little easier to convince yourself to exercise outside in the rain and cold.

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