It’s easy to lose your running mojo when it’s cold and wet outside, but there are ways to stay on track throughout the dark winter months. We’ve put together a handy winter running survival guide to get you through and to make sure the drop in temperature doesn’t equal a drop in fitness.
Dress for success
The general rule of thumb is to dress as though it’s 5 degrees (Celsius) warmer. While you may be slightly cold to start with, you’ll soon get the blood pumping and warm up to a comfortable running temperature. Layers of sweat-wicking fabrics are best and avoid cotton at all costs. Take into account your own thermostat – if you feel the cold more or have poor circulation then consider gloves and a beanie to stay toastie warm. Your choice of socks is also important if you want to avoid toe-icicles. Woollen or sweat-wicking socks are perfect for cold and wet conditions as they don’t hold moisture.
Be safe be seen
If you’re running in winter it’s likely you’ll also have to contend with darkness in the morning and evening. It can be a good idea to invest in a headlamp, chest-light or small flashlight, not only so you can see where you’re going, but also so that cars, bikes and other pedestrians can see you coming. For that same reason you may also want to wear some form of reflective clothing, particularly if you’re running along the road or footpath. Most running and sports shops sell a range of light and reflective accessories.
It’s worth doing a quick warm-up before you brave the outdoors. This can help to prevent injury and make the cold temperature less of a shock as you head out the door. All it takes is a few dynamic stretches, like walking lunges, calf-pumps and leg swings, and you’ll be ready to go. This also applies to after your run, but make sure you stretch inside to avoid getting a chill.
While you may not have a visible sweat-on like you do in the summer, you’re still losing fluid and it’s just as important to replace this during or after your run, depending on the length. For runs of longer 60 minutes or longer consider taking a small drink bottle with you, but for shorter runs simply replacing fluids once you’re finished is fine.
Rain, rain go away
If you’re brave enough to pound the pavements in the rain, there are a few things to remember. Make sure to get out of your wet clothes as soon as you can once you’re finished, this includes sports bras for the ladies. If you’re running away from home make sure to take a change of clothes for the journey home. To speed up the drying of wet shoes, try placing crumpled up newspaper inside them overnight and take out the insoles to dry separately. Avoid placing them directly on heaters or in tumble dryers as this can not only be a fire hazard, but can also damage your shoes.