Don’t stop running this winter! These cold weather running tips will keep you running. The biggest hurdle is yourself.
The arrival of the winter cold is no reason to hang up your running shoes. If you want to hit the ground running, strong and fit in spring, you will want to keep your running routine through the cold weather season.
Let’s be honest, with the amount of running gear on the market there really is no excuse not to go out running in the cold weather. It just takes a little planning, maybe some shopping and a little determination. Staying motivated is key!
Winter running can actually get quite fun. Especially if you live in an area with snowfall. The snow seams to bring with it an element of a surreal quietness which works great for clearing the mind. Well, that is until the beautiful fluffy white snow turns to brown slush. So get out their early!
If you plan to hit the winter running scene, there are a few things worth considering to keep the fun in your run.
1.Don’t Overthink the Cold
The more time you spend checking your weather apps, staring out the window to see the grey cold weather and sticking your hand out of the window to check how cold it really feels the less likely you are to be getting out there.
Don’t get me wrong here, you do need to understand the weather conditions so that you are sure it is safe to head out, and so you know how to dress for your run. But that is about it.
Live in the knowledge that with the right gear on you are set to go. So just get the right gear on and go!
2.Get The Right Running Gear
Dressing right may be easier said than done. You are not dressing to go outside and stand still, you will be moving and generating body heat. It is very easy to overdress and get too hot. The down side of this is that you may sweat more, and when your sweat cools you will feel the cold very quickly.
Here are a few things to consider when getting your running gear on.
Dressing in layers will allow you to take some clothes off with only a minimal change in temperature, effectively like changing the thermostat in small increments.
Heading out in a thick winter jacket will only give you one of two choices, hot or cold.
Adding zipped layers add an extra dimension to your running gear by increasing your ability to manage your bodies temperature in micro adjustments, by opening or closing zips. This is practical in reducing the need to remove layers. A definite bonus.
Layers to Consider…
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Windbreakers and Rain Jackets
Whilst they will help keep you warm, your base layers may not keep the wind or rain out.
These are specific elements to look out for. Wind and/or rain can add a significant chill factor. Adding waterproof clothing, or windbreakers will add an extra layer of protection against the elements.
Whilst running in base layers on a cold dry day may be fine, add wind or rain to the weather conditions and you will be dealing with a different situation entirely.
When shopping for running jackets things to consider include:
- Breathability: this is key, a good breathable jacket will reduce the sweat build up which can make your run uncomfortable and in colder conditions cause you to get cold fast.
- Waterproof or water resistant: This is not the same. Some jackets are designed as a very light shell to keep off a light sprinkling and stop you getting wet. This does not mean that these jackets will stop you getting soaked in heavy rainfall. If you are planning longer periods in the rain, look for proper rain protection.
- Windbreaker: Wind chill can reduce your running temperature significantly. If you are running in windy conditions, especially when cold, make sure your jacket will block out the wind.
Running Jackets to consider…
From personal experience, if my feet, fingers and head (especially ears) get cold, the rest of my body quickly feels cold.
Whilst even fingers will warm up through the blood circulation from your running, this can take some time to take effect and once your fingers are cold your run can become very unpleasant.
As with base layers, ensure that your hats and gloves help in absorbing and drying your sweat. If your gloves don’t allow your sweat to escape and dry, you may find yiur gloves contribute to the cold.
You don’t need snow or ice to make the running surface slippy.
Wet leaves or drain covers do a pretty good job of making it difficult to stay upright (I speak from experience and have had bruises to prove it).
Getting Gore-Tex running shoes with and extra level of grip is worthwhile investment if you are going to spend time winter running, and so is keeping your feet dry and warm.
The thin breathable mesh upper on most running shoes is not ideal to keep the water out. Whilst this is fine in a summer run, cold, wet feet on a snowy winter run is not a pleasant experience.
With a wide range of Gore Tex trail running shoes available it is worth staying comfortable if you want to make winter running your thing.
In addition, for the extra grip in snow adding some Yaktrax can be a good addition to your gear
Gear Review: Adidas Supernova Glide Boost
With your winter running wardrobe ready, it’s time to focus on the run itself.
The side effect of the cold is that you will want to warm up fast, the tendency is therefore is to start running, fast.
This is not such a good idea if you want to avoid injury. Your muscles still need to warm up gradually before you hit the pace of your run.
Doing a dynamic warm up before you head out is a better option, if you have a garage or a ‘in-between’ space where you can adjust to the outdoor temperature whilst warming up it is ideal.
When you start your run, keep a close eye on your pace and make sure that you are taking it easy for the first few kilometres to ensure you fully warm up.
4. Keep Your Eyes On The Road
The likelihood of uneven ground, or slippery surfaces will be bigger. Keep an eye on the road ahead.
There is no need to stare down at the ground right in front of your, but scanning ahead to see potential obstacles, branches, leafy or icy areas will get you ready for them.
Running in the daytime is ideal, but if you have no choice but to run in the dark, take a running head torch to both see, and be seen.
To help you stay stable on slippery grounds, run with a shorter stride keeping your body above your feet. This will allow you to react faster if you do slip, and by keeping flexibility in your knees you will be able to manage any slipping.
5. Cool Down
When you stop your run you will cool down fast!
It is best to avoid stopping during your run, once you cool down warming up again will be tough. This is something to be careful of when you bump into friends whilst on your run. Stopping for a quick chat will leave you with a chill very fast.
When you finish your run, start to slow down as you near the end of your run and then either ensure you are able to get back indoors quickly to do your stretching, or make sure you have spare layers you can put on to keep yourself warm.
When getting back inside, get out of any sweaty clothes and get into some dry clothes to stretch.
It is a good idea to give your body some time to re-adjust to room temperature before jumping in the shower.
6.Relax And Have A Warm Drink
Sit back and have a hot warming drink; hot chocolate, coffee tea, whichever works for you.
This can feel pretty rewarding. Don’t however forget to get fluids in. When running in warmer weather the need for hydration may seem more obvious but you should not treat your winter runs differently. Make sure you are taking in fluids before and after your run to stay hydrated.
Jeroen is a keen runner and triathlete. With over 10 years of experience training and participating in races, simply for the joy of sport he has turned to sharing his experience through the articles he writes. As a founder at Loop Social Sport Jeroen has focused his passion on creating a community of like minded individuals who not only train together but also motivate newcomers to take up sport, whether in person or via this blog.