As difficult as it may be to believe, winter running is incredibly rewarding. Your fall training may have ended — hopefully with positive results – but you can keep that momentum going and avoid slipping into hibernation by running all winter long.
Running through cold, slushy streets will test you both physically and mentally. It’s hard to head out into frigid weather (it really is) and you may find yourself questioning your sanity. I certainly do. But I assure you, if you keep up your running all winter, you can come out the other side a stronger and, definitely more badass, runner!
Here are a few tips to help you warm up to the idea of winter running.
Overheating is a serious concern during winter running. Wearing too much can be just as harmful as wearing too little. As a general rule, dress for weather that’s 10-15 degrees warmer than the current temperature. As you run your body generates heat and will take care of those extra degrees for you.
A good base layer is the perfect place to start. Try something with a high merino wool content, it will keep you warm and wick away sweat at the same time. A solid wind-breaking top layer will act as a shield and protect you from any frigid winter winds. Protect your hands with a great pair of gloves boasting wind-proof panels and smart-phone friendly fingertips.
Team Work Makes The Dream Work
Finding the motivation to lace up when it’s cold and dark is tough when you do it alone. Add accountably by running with friends. Pick a location, make plans to meet up and have a preplanned route. Knowing that someone is depending on you will make you more likely run when it’s cold. Plus sharing the accomplishment of running through a wicked snowstorm is an incredible feeling, high-fives all around! Running with a group is also great for safety. There are added risks with winter running and having someone around in case of emergency is always a smart idea.
Visibility is key during winter running. Wear brighter clothing when possible especially during snowstorms, this will help you stand out amounts the flurries. Also opt for highly reflective clothing like Flash jackets in order to be visible to oncoming traffic from a distance.
Warm Up Indoors
It’s especially important to warm up your muscles before you head out for a run during the winter, muscles take a little longer to warm up in colder weather and you’ll be more likely to actually head out the door if you feel warm. A 10-minute dynamic warm up is a great idea; include things like leg swings, air squats and mountain climbers. These exercises and more will increase your heart rate, increase your range of motion and warm your core.
Adjust Your Stride
Shortening your gait by taking quicker shorter steps will help you run on slippery surfaces. You may find different muscles feel sore after your runs, this totally normal and is due to your legs working harder to stabilize the lateral movement created by the slippery, uneven terrain. Think of it as added cross training – who doesn’t love more cross training? Winter running is more about accumulating your kilometres than it is about running fast all the time; slow down and be on the lookout for ice patches.
Set A Goal
Goal setting is important any time of the year, but it will be incredibly encouraging during the winter months. Knowing you have a race or distance goal in the near future gives your runs purpose. Every run should have a purpose!
With the correct gear and a few modifications winter running can be incredibly rewarding and dare I say…peaceful. Being the first to lay down footprints on a freshly snow-covered path is an amazing, meditative experience. The sound of your feet on the pavement is temporarily replaced with the sound of snow crunching underfoot and it’s lovely. When the seasons change and we’re greeted again with clear sidewalks, you’ll be amazed at how strong and powerful your strides feel. With these few simple adjustments you too can answer “yes” to, “Do you actually run all winter?”