Don’t let winter derail your running. Here’s what you need to know about running in the winter.
Once winter arrives many runners head indoors, throw their running shoes in the cupboard and don’t look back, at least until spring. Don’t let that be you. In fact, running right through the winter will make you a much stronger and faster runner come spring.
This is a mistake many beginner runners make. Instead of training through winter, runners opt-out and stop training altogether. This stunts your running progress while you gradually get unfit binge-watching some of your favourite Netflix shows. While this may be a fun at the time, come summer you’ll wish you had done at least some training.
We’re not saying you ought to run six or seven days per week, in fact, you could do the bare minimum to sustain your current fitness while still avoiding the majority of those cold, dark, and rainy nights.
The remainder of this article will discuss how to maintain motivation to train in the winter, what to wear, and various other popular questions surrounding winter running.
How to maintain motivation to train throughout the winter
Perhaps the most difficult task all runners are faced with – how to maintain motivation to run and or train throughout the winter months.
A recent blog post from Running101 suggests setting both short and long-term goals to keep your motivation up. For example, your long-term goal may be a race towards the end of winter, whereas your short-term goals may be increasing your weekly mileage by no more than 10% each week.
Implementing effective goal setting throughout the winter months gives you a reason to train. Likewise, these short-term goals build confidence in our own ability when done right to achieve our long-term goals.
What to wear in the winter when running
With winter running being much more demanding, it’s important to wear the right running gear. Personally, we suggest purchasing some warm weather running gear such as a pair of running tights, a thermal, a waterproof jacket, and even a hat and gloves.
Remember, layers can always be removed, whereas you can’t add extra layers while running. Always dress for the weather and expect the unexpected – you never know when the weather is going to change, especially in the winter.
How to stay safe
With those dark, wet, and gloomy nights upon us, it’s essential to stay safe while remaining visible in those cold weather months. The NHS UK recommends sticking to well-lit areas if possible while running, while also opting for highly visible clothing.
The majority of popular running brands already include reflective material on a large portion of their products. Consider wearing bright yellows, oranges, and greens, especially when it’s dark out.
Finally, If possible we suggest running with a friend. This increases your safety while if anything happens to either of you, the other can call for help.
Warmup & Cooldown
While I know, many of us are guilty of skipping the occasional warmup or cooldown, these certainly aren’t to be missed during winter.
Warming up before a run inside with a few dynamic stretches will reduce your risk of pulling a muscle while increasing blood flow to your working muscles – essentially kick-starting your body for what’s to follow.
Likewise, cooling down after a run with some static stretches and even a light jog will speed up your recovery time while flushing toxins out of the muscles and reducing your risk of injury.
Sometimes it’s safer to head indoors…
Yep, you heard us. When the rain or sleet is falling, the ground is slippy, and the temperatures are below freezing, and the last thing you want to do is run, we actually recommend you head indoors and instead warmup and stay safe – sometimes it’s best to take a small loss for a big gain.
However, if possible, we suggest running on the treadmill or performing an indoor strength training session. It’s much better to get something in rather than nothing. Besides, with treadmill running, you can get a dry, fast, and comfortable run in without the hassle of wrapping up warm and embracing the cold.
Running in the winter is no easy task. To make your life that little bit easier, we advise running with a friend, setting both short and long-term goals, wearing highly reflective clothing, and finally heading indoors if you must.