Total Guide to Winter Running Survival
Unless you temporarily relocate to sunny pastures for the next four months, you can’t avoid training through the Great British Winter. We salute you; it’s not always easy but is a great way to train. However, when you are outside in the cold for long periods of time, you need to ensure you wear the right kit and plan your recovery to avoid illness and injury and frankly to make your runs more enjoyable. Here is how to ensure you survive the season without skipping a run.
Perhaps the most crucial thing to get right to ensure you enjoy your run is choosing the right kit. And the secret? Layering. Whether it’s freezing cold or mild and wet, layers will give you options. If you layer correctly you will be able to be free from cold sweat whilst keeping the warmth in. There are three key stages:
Base layer: this needs to be moisture wicking and snug to skin.
Mid layer: this one insulates the body and is only necessary if it’s really cold outside, it should be loose fitting.
Outer layer: this is the protective shell against the weather and needs to fit loosely on top of the other clothes. Look for ventilation panels and reflective detailing if you’re a night-time runner.
Other top tips for staying warm include covering yourself head to toe, so investing in a running hat and gloves. Ensuring you wear technical running socks is also key so that they wick away your sweat and don’t leave your feet cold.
Sometimes running in the dark is unavoidable. If you are running early in the morning or after dark, you must be seen. Wear kit with as much reflective detailing as possible or decorate your kit with reflective wristbands and ankle straps etc. It’s also a good idea to attach a light to your kit and even wear a head torch if there are no street lamps. Finally, make sure someone knows where you are a take a phone with you, especially if you are heading to quiet footpaths or streets.
Having a proper warm-up is always important for runners, but during cold weather, it’s all the more essential. Before you leave the house, warm-up the body gently by running up and down the stairs a few times and performing mobility exercises such as leg-swings and hip circles. This will mean you don’t end up overdressing and will also prepare your muscles to run before you head out the door to avoid strain or injury. When you do start running, take the first 10-15 minutes easy so you have time to find your stride.
Fuel and refuel! This is always essential but you need to cover a few key bases with your winter training nutrition. You need to ensure that you pack in enough nutrients during this time to help your body avoid illness. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables every day to help with this. It is also important to eat food rich in vitamin D to make up for the reduced sunlight hours, fish such as salmon as well as fortified cereals, milk and yoghurt are all good options. Vitamin D is essential for bone health and immune system support.
During the colder months, you will likely sweat-less and therefore be less inclined to drink. However forgetting to sip water will have an impact on your performance and can be dangerous. If you’re going out for a long run, make sure you take water with you and always leave the house fully hydrated.