When there’s snow on the ground or rain lashing at your window, it’s quite possible that the last thing you want to do is lace up your trainers and hit the road for a run. Here are some tips on how not to lose your running mojo (or your fingers to frostbite!) this winter…
Now that the cold weather has settled in, it’s the perfect time to join a running club or organise to run with friends. Running with others will give you scheduled runs that you’re less likely to skip, plus there’s added safety from running in a group. You might also discover some new routes to tackle, not to mention meeting a few new running pals.
Need a goal and a reason to get out there and run? Why not sign up for a race? Having something to train for is brilliant motivation, and there’s the guarantee of a medal to show off afterwards too. If the thought of running through sleet and snow for a couple of hours fills you with dread, sign up for a 5k or 10K race and use the winter season to improve your speed. The colder temperatures will encourage you to pick up the pace on your usual route, and make it home more quickly.
Keeping winter running enjoyable is all about staying warm. Start with the extremities and add a hat or fleece headband to your outfit- you lose up to 25% of your body heat from your head! Keep your hands warm by wearing gloves, or a long sleeved top with thumb holes; we like these bright, breathable tees from Lululemon.
As with skiing, when you’re dressing for winter running, its crucial to get your layering right. Start with a base layer, such as these bamboo long sleeve tees from Sweaty Betty, then top with a jumper – like this Nike dri-fit knit long sleeved sweater. A lightweight, breathable, water-resistant jacket is the fundamental piece of kit that will keep you running come rain or shine. It will keep you dry(ish), protect you from the wind, and if you opt for a bright colour, ensure that you’re visible to other road users. If you can, run when it’s light outside, but if you’re going to run first thing or at night, invest in some reflective gear to keep yourself safe. Ronhill have a great selection of day-glo jackets.
Under Armour’s compression leggings have been described as a cuddle for your legs, and we’re inclined to agree. The soft inner layer helps to circulate body heat, while the ColdGear fabric keeps you protected from the elements. Alternatively, Sweaty Betty has a range of reflective thermal tights that provide a lot more warmth than your average pair of running tights.
Investing in some trail shoes is a good idea if you’re going to be doing a lot of outdoor running this winter. Trail shoes (such as the Brooks Cascadia 8s) provide extra grip and traction across all terrain, as well as added protection from the road/trail surface. No shoes are going to protect you from icy ground, but these will serve you well over snow, mud and slush. If it is icy underfoot, it’s best to steer clear of pavements and roads, taking your run to an off-road trail or even a treadmill.
When running during the winter, (or at any time of year) make sure you let someone know where you’re going and always take a fully charged phone. If you’re planning a long run then stuff your pockets with some running snacks, like Shotbloks energy gels or Haribo. And don’t forget to take a bottle of water – without the visible evidence of sweat, it’s easy to forget about getting dehydrated. I also take tissues and lipbalm with me on any runs over five miles.
Before You Run…
Always warm up properly before setting off: a round of star jumps, planks, walking lunges and mountain climbers will ensure your muscles aren’t cold when you start running. Running in cold weather reduces muscle contractions, as well as limiting blood flow around the body, meaning that your muscles won’t perform as efficiently. Don’t be too disappointed if your winter runs feel harder- your body becomes less oxygen-efficient, meaning that it needs more oxygen to do the same amount of exercise as it does during warmer weather.
Get out there and run – just think about how good your hot chocolate will taste when you get back!