How To Keep Running This Winter
Cold is one of the toughest obstacles when it comes to running. It is an unnerving combination of icy pavements, dark mornings, gusting winds and extreme temperatures.
The obvious alternative to run inside, on a treadmill. But for runners who love the outdoors, that’s not a realistic or rousing substitute. So, here are a few ideas to help you keep training in the run up to easter.
Dress like the weather is much warmer
The sensation caused by overheating is frustrating. Reduce this uncomfortable feeling by dressing like it is much warmer outside than it really is. After just a few minutes of running you will quickly warm up.
Dress in layers of thin clothes that keep moisture away
Start with a thin layer of synthetic material (such as Dri Fit, Thermax, Coolmax, polypropylene), which keeps sweat away from your body. Do not wear cotton – it will retain moisture and you will be all wet (and in winter that means cold) during the run. Follow that with an outer layer – nylon or Gore-Tex – to protect yourself against bracing winds and rain.
These breathable layers are good because they let out heat and moisture to prevent overheating. If it is very cold outside, you will also have to use a middle layer, such as a polar fleece. The middle layer should be a little wider so it can trap air and act as an insulator. Also, don’t forget to protect your hands and feet as 30% of your body heat escapes through your hands and feet.
Keeping a proper balance of electrolytes is more important than you think. With no visible evidence that you are sweating, it’s easy to forget about hydration. Your body needs fluids before, during and after the workout. Remember that you will definitely sweat – not as much as you do during summer – but you will lose a significant amount of water and electrolytes.
Start running with the wind in your face
If you start this way, then it is quite likely you will finish your run with the wind at your back. This means that it will be easier to get home on a very cold day because you will not have to endure the cold air in front of you, especially when you’re sweaty.
You will have much more motivation to go out and run in the winter if you have a good friend or running buddy at your side. Even if you are tempted to give up, you are less likely to if it means cancelling on a friend. Arrange regular morning runs with a friend and plan a nice lunch together as a reward if you can keep it up.
See… and be seen
If you go running at night, wear bright colors and reflective equipment that will ensure you get noticed by drivers. If it is snowing, wear clothes with bright colors. Also, make sure you wear proper running shoes with good grip if you are running in the snow. You don’t want to fall while running.
Pay attention to weather conditions. Check the forecast – temperature, wind and moisture – and plan accordingly.
Change your running schedule
If the weather is very cold or visibility is really bad, it could be safer to try some different workouts in the gym, like cycling, squats, swimming, and yes, even running on the treadmill. Think of it as an opportunity to focus on different muscle groups or core strength, which will keep you fit and supple in between runs.
Wear colored glasses
If there is snow everywhere, your eyes will get tired. Sunglasses can help you protect you against the glare as well as from strong winds.
It’s hard to get motivated when it comes to these cold temperatures. Temptations are everywhere: a warm bed, a hot chocolate, the thought of holidays. Try these motivational tricks in the run up to Christmas:
- Give yourself a foodie motivation. Just think about a delicious dinner waiting for you at the end of the run.
- Cross training. Now is the perfect time to diversify training. Swim in the pool, bike indoors and do some squats.
- Invite a friend for a run. Just choose a place and a time to run with someone. It is an oft-repeated advice, because you can’t let people down and miss the run.
- Find a running group. This always works. In my town, we have a local running group and we go out every Sunday.
- Start preparing for a competition that takes place in the spring. If you can put yourself in a competitive mood, then the warm bed and hot chocolate don’t stand a chance. Start preparing for a marathon taking place in February or March.