Running in the colder temperatures of fall and winter can feel exhilarating. You sweat much less than when you run under a blazing summer sun and the frozen, silent landscape can be breathtaking. Lower temperatures and inclement weather can increase your risk for injury while running, however, so don’t miss these 5 important reminders and prevention tips:

Prepping your muscles

Cold weather literally makes your muscles lose heat causing them to contract and tense up. Tighter stiffer muscles lack the elasticity to safely stretch out when you jump into an intense physical activity like running (and can thusly increase your risk for injury).

Prepping your muscles and joints is as simple as warming them for five to ten minutes prior to your run with exercises like taking a brisk indoor walk, doing a mini yoga session, or completing dynamic movements like plyometric jump squats and standing elbow to knee repetitions.

Maintaining body awareness

It’s easy to feel a twinge of pain when you are running in warm weather and your body is sensing every impact with the ground. In winter, however, you might be dealing with some numbness from your body’s exposure to the cold. Nerve conductivity naturally slows down in the cold which means your body may not be transmitting signals back to your brain very quickly.

You could potentially end up running through pain in the cold that you would otherwise stop and address in warmer weather. Prevent this from happening by wearing adequate layers when you go running in the cold that keep your body warm and by remaining hypersensitive to how your body is moving in the cold and any sensations that may feel strange. Don’t ignore aches and pains, especially in your feet, ankles, knees, and back (see:

Preventing hypothermia

It pretty much goes without saying that not dressing for cold weather will increase your chances of getting hypothermia, a condition where the internal body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When your body’s heat production can’t keep up with its heat loss you can start to experience dangerous symptoms including shivering, confusion, shallow breathing, confusion, drowsiness, and even loss of consciousness.

While you want to wear warm clothing and accessories (gloves, hat, etc.), it’s just as important to wear layers. Why? Because you will still sweat when you run in the cold and the moisture of sweat on your skin combined with any sort of wind can drop your temperature fast.

Layers allow you to maintain an evener body temperature because you can remove them as you start to sweat more on your run. Fueling before a run with a substantial meal will also give you the calories your body needs to burn and provide you with consistent heat and energy.

Staying hydrated

Cold winter air is naturally drier than its warm summer counterparts and dry air is notorious for pulling moisture out of your skin, on your arms, your face, in your nose and throat, you name it. For this reason, you’ll want to maintain peak hydration levels when running in cold weather which means drinking water before, during, and after your run.

You can also protect your skin from dry air when you spend extra time outdoors by applying moisturizers and lip balms that help lock moisture in. Lather up with petroleum jelly products and those with hyaluronic acid (helps draw moisture out of the air) to prevent chapping, flaking, and peeling.

Avoiding inclement conditions

While trekking through a snowy forest on your winter trail run might give you a jolt of adventure, you want to be extra careful about inclement weather conditions that could increase your risk for slipping and falling. Everything from freezing rain to sleet, ice, snow, and even high winds that can blow tree limbs off can endanger your safety in a flash.

While missing your daily run because of bad weather is no fun, if you have a “contingency plan” in place, it won’t be such a bummer. Plan indoor cross-training activities for winter weather days like going swimming, riding a stationary bike, dancing, practicing yoga, or playing indoor soccer.

Final Thoughts

Keeping up with your running schedule even when temperatures drop can help you stay on track of your training, especially if you are preparing for a race like a marathon. To give yourself a little extra motivation to face the cold on your regular runs, sign yourself up for a springtime race and have a goal on the calendar to work toward.