The winter months can be a bit of a dead zone for both diet and exercise. You can’t walk five feet without someone sticking chocolate under your nose, so it’s harder than ever to cut out the snacks, and those cold, dark mornings make it really tough to summon the energy to work out.
For those brave souls who are struggling through the winter and sticking to their routine, winter runs can be some of the most enjoyable cardio you do all year. There’s something about the cool air, the wind and the inevitable rain that makes the whole experience that little bit more special than pounding the treadmill in the comfort of the gym.
Venturing out into the cold requires some additional preparation and planning than a normal run, so we’ve prepared a few top tips for running in the cold!
Wear the right shoes
The conditions underfoot tend to be a bit more treacherous in the winter, so wearing the right footwear is hugely important. Look for a running shoe that’s waterproof and has good grip, which should help keep your feet dry and keep you upright. Trail running shoes are usually pretty useful in the winter, so those are a good place to start when looking for your new runners.
Dress for the weather
Layers are the key to dressing for winter running, and this goes right from your head to your feet. Modern runners are lucky, in the sense that there’s a lot of high tech clothing available to help keep you warm without overheating, wick sweat away from the body and help keep you dry.
The minimum should be 2 tops (one long sleeve), running tights and/or wind pants, and double running socks. As it gets cooler, you can add a fleece jacket, a hat and gloves. You’ll get a feel for what’s too much and what’s not enough as you spend more time running in the cold.
One final thing to remember about choosing your clothing – be visible. Light is much lower throughout the winter, so it’s important that cars, cyclists and other pedestrians can see you clearly. Look for high viz clothing with reflective strips, and if you’re out at night make sure you take a torch.
It’s easier to cope with the cold if you’ve already warmed up a little, so try to get your temperature up a little before you head out. Some running on the spot, jumping jacks or some ballistic stretches should do the trick, and a decent warm up will lower your risk of injury.
Forget about breaking any records
Running in the winter is more about logging miles than going faster, and for most people it’s best to try and maintain your mileage rather than making huge progress. Conditions make it difficult to focus on speed work, and the colder air can make endurance work far more challenging than in warmer weather. If you can, try to run in the middle of the day when it’s likely to be warmer. If it’s not possible, consider splitting your run into 2 separate parts and heading out in the morning and the evening.
While it’s not the ideal time to be training for your new PB, winter running can be fun if you properly prepare for the conditions so get geared up and hit the pavement!