Just because the weather gets cold and it might even snow during winter, it doesn’t mean you should modify your training schedule. Indeed, winter running may prove to be a bit more difficult than in other seasons, but just like everything in life, there are ups and downs. The downside is that you will face some chilly winds, icy pavement, and a lot less light than you’re normally used to. But even in these harsh conditions, there are some things you can do to make winter running a little easier.
Do Your Warm-Up Inside
In warmer seasons it’s great to do your warm-up exercises outside, but in the winter you should start your warm-up while you’re still inside. This has two advantages. The first one is that you can start running as soon as you get out the door. And the second one is that since you are moving quickly as soon as you are outside, you will keep your body temperature high enough so that you can run without wearing too many clothes. No matter how cold it is outside, if you are exercising your core temperature will stay at a stable level. This prevents having to carry that extra layer in your hands or a bag, which just gets annoying during a run.
Layer-Up for Winter Running
While you don’t want to wear excess layers, you need to wear more in the winter than you would in warmer weather. Proper layering is the best way to maintain your body temperature while making sure that your skin can also breathe. You want to keep the warmth in but still allow the sweat to get out. Look for clothes made of nylon or polypropylene, these have the best characteristics for what you need. If you prefer natural fabrics, your safest bet would be merino wool, but it won’t do the same job as a synthetic fabric.
Once you have good layers on your body, it’s time to think about your extremities. These areas should definitely not be ignored during winter running. Your core will easily keep a stable temperature, but your extremities are more prone to heat loss. Gloves and a hat or hood become essential in a winter running routine. You can opt for winter biking gloves and a regular running cap. You may overheat if you wear a thick touque or beanie. Consider pre-heating the pieces you wear before your run, it can work wonders.
Remember to Hydrate
Since you’re all layered-up, you might not notice that you’re sweating and you may forget that you still need to hydrate when winter running. Even though you won’t sweat like you would running on a summer day, you should still have some fluids with you in case there is no source of water where you are running. Snow is not suitable for hydration.
Perhaps the toughest thing during cold winter days is finding the motivation to go outside and run. You can try the old trick of meeting up with someone for your daily run. This will give you some extra motivation to get out there because you won’t want to let your friend down. Another thing that can help keep you consistent in your winter running is setting a goal that you want to reach by spring. It can be a goal for distance, calories burned, or weight loss.
Make Yourself Visible
Daylight is limited in winter and you’ll most probably be running in the dark. Even when running in a park or any other enclosed perimeter, you should always be as visible as possible. Reflective clothing and some lights will do the trick of making visible to cyclists, drivers, and other pedestrians. If you wish to opt for reflective clothing, check for pieces that have the reflecting material on the arms and legs since moving objects are easier to spot. Alternatively, you can consider something like these LED arm bands. Lights can also be attached to your sneakers so you are visible to the people behind you. These clip-on lights are very inexpensive yet priceless when it comes to your safety.
Speaking of lights, when running in the dark and on roads that may be icy, you might want to see where you’re going and what you are stepping on. Consider wearing a headlamp to help you see the road in front of you. Before buying one, keep in mind that it should be comfortable to wear so that it won’t bother you during the run.
Running in the snow without proper gear can have a negative impact on your health. Wear a rain jacket if it’s snowing heavily or at least go with some impermeable gear since a rain jacket might not let your body breathe properly.
Having cold and wet feet can increase the risk of you getting a cold or other physical illnesses. Aside from that, there’s nothing more terrible and misery-inducing than having cold and wet feet. It’s important to invest in some running shoes that are waterproof. Most people that run on a regular basis completely ignore the need for proper gear for their feet, thinking that any pair of sneakers will do. Not only do you want a pair of running shoes that are comfortable and fit properly, you also want them to keep your feet dry.
Prevent Slips and Falls
Keep in mind that with cold temperatures ice can easily form and get covered with a thin layer of snow. If you’re running in the morning or at night, try to avoid humid spots or anything that might look suspicious at first glance. Slipping on the ice during a run can lead to some serious injuries and might even keep you away from running for the entire winter. Consider using these traction cleats to prevent slipping on icy surfaces.
I hope these tips help you have safer and more enjoyable winter runs. If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments below. Happy winter running!