How to Keep Running through the Winter
Running through the winter can be a challenge. Not only do you have to cope with the cold and other difficult weather conditions, it is also mostly dark. I live in the UK and these days, we only get 6 hours of daylight, at the most. However, during the few hours of daylight, I am usually stuck at work. Weekends are family time, so, unless I want to completely slack off until March, I have no other option, other than to run in the mornings when it´s still pitch black.
If it is hard to drag myself out of bed at 5:30am in July, doing so in December makes it almost impossible. The only reason why I keep doing it, is because I will ALWAYS feel good afterwards. Unfortunately it is always AFTERWARDS. During my run, I mostly just hang in there and just want to get it over with.
There are however a few things I have learned throughout the years, that make the entire endeavour easier. Let me share them with you:
Tips for running in the Winter
Choose appropriate footwear:
Chances are it´s icy, so go for trainers with the most grip. Alternatively you can get yourself some Yaktrax, which clip on easily to the bottom of your shoe and work great. Wear thick socks. I even run in skying socks sometimes, because my feet get so terribly cold. Remember to dry your shoes well after every run, too!
The key is to be able to put on and take off layers of clothing as your body temperature changes. This is especially important during long runs. I tend to get very cold after about 1 hour of running. Therefore, I head out with everything on me, take one or two outer layers off as I get warm and put them back on, if needed, during the last parts of the run.Be sure your inner layers are warm and the outer layers are wind and water-proof. Here is a good article on this subject. Also always always wear a hat, as a lot of body heat is lost through your head. If needed, wear two pairs of gloves.
Try to run through lit up streets or wider routes with better visibility. It is great if your out layer is reflecting, so others can see you. Always wear a headlamp if you are running in the dark, I have fallen flat on my face so many times, because I just could see where I was stepping into. Try to be alert all the time, it is important to be mindful and watch if the road ahead is safe. Carry your phone and ID with you, just in case.
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Adapt your training
It is OK to be slower or to go out for shorter sessions in the winter. After all, it is harder to run as the colder temperatures cause your muscles to contract less forcefully, making them less efficient. Even if you’re warmed up and wearing proper gear, you still won’t be able to run as fast as you can in ideal conditions. Modify your pace and technique according to the road conditions. Here is how.
Remember to hydrate
It is easy to forget to drink in the winter, but just because it’s cold it doesn’t mean you aren’t losing as much fluids. You will be sweating under all those layers of clothing! Use Vaseline on exposed parts of your skin, such as your face, to help protect from the cold and wind. Vaseline is naturally waterproof and quite windproof. It will help keep your face from “falling off” in bitter winds
If you wait for the perfect conditions you will never get anything done!
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