When the snow, sleet and cold weather strikes, going for a run may be the last thing on your mind. Bundling up and binge watching Netflix, yes. Running, no. But, running in the winter, isn't nearly as insane as you might think! According to many runners, it can be the best time to run!
National director of team training at GoodLife Fitness, Kim Lavender, says, “for me, running outside in the winter is a lot better than running in the heat of the summer. And there’s something so rewarding about it. It’s like your own inner battle. It’s a rage against the storm. You overcome obstacles, which then gives you evidence that you can overcome any obstacles."
So if you were thinking you'd like to start running, don't let the temperature scare you away. It is perfectly safe to run in most winter conditions. By following these tips, you can get closer to your fitness goals and feel like a winter running pro!
1. Learn how to layer
Lavender explains that one of the biggest mistakes new winter runners make is overdressing. It is reasonable to think that you would have to bundle up against the cold but in reality, it doesn't take you very long to break a sweat. If you are wearing too many layers, this could mean trouble. “Water can get trapped next to your skin, which actually increases your risk for hypothermia,” says Lavender. Wet skin transfers heat out of your body much faster than dry skin. Lavender suggests wearing 3 layers. Wear a base layer of synthetic fabric, a middle layer that is fleece or a light wool, and a light, water and wind resistant jacket on the outside. Depending on the conditions, you may be able to skip either the second or third layer.
You should feel cool when you start out on the run. You will warm up within minutes. If you feel comfortable when you step outside, you're probably wearing too much. This can be complicated to sort out at first. In the beginning, plan your route so that it circles back by your home so you can drop off a layer or pick one up.
Pick running tights designed for the winter. They are warm and lightweight. Socks made of wool or a wool blend will keep your toes warm and a hat or fleece headband will protect your ears. To keep your fingers warm, try a pair of mittens. Mittens will allow you to move your fingers freely and keep the circulation going. You will see some runners wearing scarves or balaclavas to cover their faces but you may find them smothering. Try out a few different things and find what works for you.
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2. Warm up before heading out
Beginning your winter run can be hard. Those first few minutes can be pure hell. Make things a little easier for yourself by warming up inside. Lavender suggests doing a "dynamic warm up." Try some knee lifts, squats or lunges. Any movement that will get the blood pumping. Do this for at least 10 minutes. If you are brand new to running, there is no reason that your run needs to be continuous. You can start out in a walk and bump it up to a brisk walk, before breaking out in a jog. If you are able, Lavender suggests running for 10 minutes and then walking for 1 minute. If that's not doable at the moment, set yourself some visual targets. Tell yourself you are going to run past two hyro poles, for example, walk to the next one and then start to run again.
3. Choose a route you love
“Set yourself up for success by planning a great route that inspires you,” says Lavender. Run along the frozen lake or take to the trails in the snowy woods. Explore different parts of your own neighbourhood!
You can add to your enjoyment by creating a killer playlist, downloading some podcasts or listening to an audio book.
On days when there is ice or lots of snow, try to stick to main streets. These streets are more likely to have a cleared path than the side streets or trails.
4. Set your intention
Lots of people consider the winter to be a time of adventure. They look out in the morning at the snow and want to get out there and conquer it. Others, just want to stay in bed. If you are the type to want to hibernate in the winter, Lavender has some tips that can help you get out the door for that run:
- Set your shoes by the door and your outfit at the end of the bed. No excuses.
- Throw your outfit into the dryer beforehand to warm it up.
- Run with a friend or group, to give yourself motivation.
- Remind yourself of all the rewards of completing the run: the feeling of a mission accomplished, with the oxygen flowing through your lungs and your mind cleared mind that is ready to take on the day. You can even celebrate with a nice cup of coffee.
“Let your run represent something else you’re having a challenge with, so that you can build on that confidence,” advises Lavender. “The more you identify those wins, the more apt you’ll be to keep doing it.”
Don't let a little weather prevent you from reaching your goals!
Are your ready to take on winter running?