Runners face a lot of challenges in Winter weather. Here’s how to stay safe, fit, and injury free.
1) Focus on long term goals – not PBs
Winter isn’t the time to break PBs or even to post fastest-ever times on your local training routes. Cold temperatures, dark nights, wind, rain, and icy surfaces are not conducive to fast times! So focus on your long term goals as a runner. Think of Winter as building up a solid base, and putting pennies in the bank of your training deposit account. You can cash them in once the weather is better and daylight hours are longer.
2) Put safety first – don’t take risks
You face more risks as a runner during Winter. Running in the dark is the obvious one, but there’s also traffic and pedestrian risks (other people can take a while to get used to seasonal changes in the light!), headlights from oncoming traffic, dog walkers in the dark, cyclists without lights… the list goes on. Take responsibility for your own safety. If you assume that nobody else is paying attention, you will be in a stronger position. Wear reflective clothing, high vis strips on your kit, and never run in all black kit. Leave the headphones at home, and do your best to run in the best lit areas.
3) Wear proper Winter kit – not Summer cotton
In Summer, you can get away with running in general leisure wear. But in Winter you really need to think about running kit. Invest in some layers and technical fabrics so don’t overheat (or freeze!) Several layers are better than one bulky jacket. Add a hat, some gloves, and some decent running socks to your kit list.
4) Have a varied training plan – stay flexible
In Summer, you can set off for long runs safe in the knowledge that the weather is unlikely to change. But in Winter, you don’t have the luxury of long daylight hours and steady temperatures. So leave the longer runs for Spring. Winter is a great time to mix it up with hill sprint sessions, treadmill work or interval training. You’ll boost your fitness, burn lots of calories, and never get bored!
5) Always warm up properly – avoid injury
Over Winter, be sure to warm up before you head outside for a run. A proper warm up will help get your head in the game, and physically warm your muscles and joints so you avoid injury as you head outside into lower temperatures. Change into your running kit half an hour or so ahead of time, and warm up. You can either jog on the spot, do knee raises, heel kicks, and some dynamic stretching. Or you could do some household chores! It’s all the same to your body. The aim is to get your heart rate up and move your limbs and spine.