Winter Running

It’s cold, it might snow, and the path might get frosty, becoming better suited for ice skates than your running shoes. We previously discussed summer running in a blog, addressing the heat and its challenging conditions. The following tips are based on our running experiences and research, providing general views on these matters.

Layer over Layer

Depending on the type of running workout, always be prepared for a situation where you might have to walk and can get colder. The combination of cold and wind can be significant factors if you’re not wearing sufficient layers of clothing. When running, you generate more body heat than you would while casually strolling in the snow, but you don’t want to find that after 10 minutes of running you’re still so cold that your muscles are stiff and an increased chance of injuries may occur. In this case, we advise making good use of layers. This allows you to remove a layer, like a jacket, when it gets too warm,

Consider a long-sleeved shirt, a sports sweater, and a wind/training jacket as options. This will give you the opportunity to make variations. Does the sun pop up? Enjoy the cold air and the sunbeams on your face. Take off the jacket and tie it around your waist. Is it dark or cloudy and you get cold? Pop it back on and maintain a good core temperature.

Did you know, some sports long-sleeves and sweaters may have a hole at the position of your hands. This way, you can place your thumb inside the hole and keep your knuckles protected from the cold wind. Additionally, if you’re keen on hand protection, look for sleeves with a ‘pull-over’ section that covers the entire hand. Furthermore, pay attention to the material when purchasing new gear. For instance, cotton absorbs sweat and retains moisture. In turn, this will start to chafe and cause a rapid loss of body heat. So, skip the cotton racks when shopping for running clothes.

Also, consider wearing a stretch beanie hat, preferable to wool, to cover your head to prevent freezing hair and ears. And if you’re looking for a beanie, there might be pairing hand gloves of the same stretchy material which help keep the wind outside, but breathe the warm towards the outside. So you get comfy after 10 minutes of running.

Just try to tick all the boxes: a thermal base layer, some insulating layers, wind- and water-proof layers. Accessories to protect parts that cool down fast and heat up slow, like your hands and ears. And take a layer too many that can be removed, instead of one too few. You’ll find your happy middle ground after some experience with running in wintertime.

Still Drink Plenty of Water

It’s a common misconception that you don’t sweat on extremely cold days, but you will. You’ll also still lose fluids through heavier breathing in the winter. It might be less of a point to consider in the middle of August, but you still need to keep hydrating. If cold water is just too unappealing, get a thermal bottle and take some tea or after your workout hot chocolate, but keep it in check at all times. This also will prevent headaches.

Nutrition: Your body will burn more calories to maintain its body heat, so you’ll probably need to increase your intake a bit to compensate if you go for long runs. Are you really going for a big goal like a race or a marathon? Consider a pre-run meal, some snacks for the run itself, and some good recovery food afterward. Also, take into account that some Vitamin D could be part here, as we produce less of this when the sun doesn’t show itself as much and might need a bit of help.

Also, consider reducing your intake of caffeine or alcohol before your run, as these can contribute to dehydration.

Check the Road!

Regularly check for signs of ice or slippery conditions on the paths or roads you use for running. Does it shine a bit too much? Has it rained earlier, and did it reach minus temperatures, meaning it’s now frozen? Is there a road that was protected with salt to prevent icing? Keep your eye on the weather conditions and local abnormalities in this regard. Never assume the roads and bridges won’t be slippery, and don’t try to set new speed records when conditions might be dangerous. Getting home safe and enjoying your run is more important than peak performance and risking a fall or injury. Stay alert, check every road during each run, and test the surface when you start to have doubts.

Stay Indoors, on a Treadmill

One of the benefits of running outside is getting a clear mind thanks to the fresh air. If we are simply prevented from running outside due to the frosty paths, running inside on a treadmill is a great substitute option. We are aware it’s not ideal as it’s a bit boring with the same view, but it’s safer than trying to beat the weather condition.

So, it may seem like winter running is discouraged. For most of us, this isn’t the case, and the weather will be quite mild most of the time (though people in Canada might need to skip a few more runs). But, just like in summer, you should look out for those times when there could be extra risk. Why ignore this when some common sense can probably get you through unscathed yet another year of running?

This season also means shorter daylight, want to read more then give this one a try: Running sessions with ‘short daylight.

Happy running!

Written by Run Trainer.

Run Trainer is je persoonlijke hardloop coaching app. Begin met hardlopen of verbeter je snelheid. Met de ingebouwde 5K, 10K, 15K of halve marathon training schema's ben je snel en eenvoudig onderweg. Luister tijdens het hardlopen naar je favoriete muziek en wordt tussendoor gecoacht. Ben je al meer gevorderd? Dan kun je zelfs je eigen schema's in de app programmeren.