Do you struggle to get out the door for a run during the cold months of winter?
Well you’re not the only one! Freezing temperatures, darkness, rain, frost and snow challenge the motivation levels of the most dedicated runners. Here are a few of my top tips to help you to combat the challenges of winter running.
1. Layer up and keep dry
This would have to be the most important thing when training in cold and wet conditions. Make sure you are wearing the right gear to keep you warm and dry. This includes layers so that you can easily take them off as you warm up during your run. If you carry your phone while you run, make sure you keep it dry by placing it in a zip lock bag. Long pants, gloves, headband or beanie and a wind proof jacket are all essential items for winter running.
2. Stay safe in the dark
Running in winter means running in the dark for most of us. Make sure you have the right gear to make yourself seen. A head lamp and reflective gear are essential items. Even with these items always try to run where there are street lights and if you have to run on the road remember to run towards the oncoming traffic so that you and approaching cars can see each other.
3. Make adjustments to your technique
Quite simply, run to suit the conditions you are running in. Running in the dark, wet and sometimes slippery conditions means that you will need to slow down. You can’t see hazards as easily and if it is frosty it can be very slippery. Try to land mid foot to stop yourself from slipping and focus on engaging your core to stabilise your body. Gravel is a better surface to run on in icy conditions rather than cement paths or asphalt as black ice and snow can make things very slippery and dangerous.
4. Warm up after
Although you feel hot and have sweated by the end of your session, if you stay out in the cold in your wet clothes you will soon feel cold and your core temperature will drop. Get those layers you peeled off during your session back on and get home and out of wet clothes as soon as possible and into a hot shower. A hot drink and food will help you recover and warm you up from the inside. If you aren’t going to be able to get somewhere dry or able to get changed make sure you have an emergency blanket packed in your pack that you have with you. These are small and can easily be carried like your gels and phone. An emergency blanket can save you from possible hypothermia.
5. Be committed and stay motivated
Don’t let a bit of rain or even snow put a damper on your training plans. Make the commitment before you go to bed by laying out your gear and setting your alarm. Don’t think about it in the morning and just get up and out the door. Making a running date with a friend will make you more accountable as you wouldn’t want to let them down. Join a local running club where you can meet other crazies out there training in the cold as well.
6. Have a contingency plan
Even with the best of intentions sometimes things just don’t go to plan. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss one training session. Training plans are flexible enough to allow for this. Be prepared to head to the gym and hit the treadmill. If you don’t have access to a gym or treadmill find an undercover area that you can run laps of or choose to do a different cardio activity like spin bike or swimming (indoors obviously).
Maintaining your training routine during winter will have you feeling good about yourself and race ready for those Spring events!