It’s easy to get out and run when the weather’s warm, not so much when temperatures drop. Here’s our guide to take the shivers out of winter exercising
As the temperature dips so might your motivation to indulge in those awesome little runs that you’ve so enjoyed since lockdown began. But winter running doesn’t have to be all bad. With the right gear and mindset, you can actually improve your training regime. Running in the cold not only increases your aerobic activity but it may also speed up your metabolism and help change your body composition.
Here are some tips to keep safe and hopefully injury free throughout the winter months:
Hamstrings, groin, glutes and calves all need a decent stetch before you step outside, so find a good routine and stick with it religiously. Moving around gets the blood flowing without breaking a sweat and the cold doesn’t feel so cold when you’re warm.
WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES
To keep warmth in and slush out, run in shoes that have the least amount of mesh. If you have shoes with Gore-Tex uppers, all the better and wear proper running socks if you can which will help draw away moisture and keep your feet warm.
THE RIGHT CLOTHES
Dressing in layers is the key to running comfortably all winter. You can start the run feeling warm, then easily shed the layers as your body warms up. Simply tie unneeded layers around your waist and keep running once you’re warm. Or plan a circuit run so you can drop them off in a safe spot when you don’t need them. Remember to put your base layer on the bottom so as you strip layers off, the correct layer is underneath and plan to run as if it’s warmer than it is.
Runners don’t drink enough as it is. When it’s warmer it might be easier to remember to drink plenty of water and while sweat rates are generally higher in hotter conditions, you will still sweat and still lose some body water while exercising in cold weather. So, remember to hydrate before and after your run.
With limited daylight, chances are you’ll be running in the dark. Wear reflective, fluorescent gear, and don’t be shy about lighting yourself up like a Christmas tree. You may feel silly, but a headlamp is a great idea to help keep you safe and make sure others can see you.
There’s often a much stiffer breeze during the winter months so plan your route in advance. Start your run into the wind and finish with it at your back, so the breeze doesn’t blast you after you’ve broken a sweat. Or try breaking it up a little. Run into the wind for about 10 minutes, turn around to run with the wind at your back for five minutes, and repeat. You can seek out man-made wind shields, too. Exposed skin is especially vulnerable to chilly gusts so as well as gloves and hats, think about protecting your nose and cheeks.
Start slowly. Resist the temptation to launch yourself into a sprint right away. Spend some time building up your endurance gradually and getting those muscles nice and warm. And don’t be afraid to cut a workout short.
SET A GOAL
It’s so important to keep motivated especially when a quick weather watch might be a temptation to sit in front of the fire. Whether it’s to lose a few pre-Christmas pounds or to beat your personal best, keep a focus and remember to reward yourself.
So important to stretch post-run. Your core body temperature drops as soon as you stop running. To avoid a lingering case of the chills, change your clothes—head to toe—as soon as you can. And drink something hot and wholesome. You can’t beat a winter soup.
If the temperature has severely dipped below freezing, it might be best to plan a day of recovery. Cold temperatures and dry air can aggravate some health conditions, so use your best judgment as to whether you should run outside. And there’s always the treadmill…