If you love running, you probably imagine your perfect running day to be sunny, slightly warm, and breezy. You hope for the absence of strong wind, rain, humidity, or just anything that could interfere with your steady running pace. However, some of us are not lucky enough to live all year long in lovely weather conditions. One of the common issues that beginners face is how to train in bad running conditions. Challenge number one for most of us is how to prepare for the winter, where the freezingly cold weather, snow, ice, wind, and slippery roads are the agenda. For this reason, I will share with you my five top tips for running in the winter for beginners.
1. Mental Health
First things first, as I always like to say. Before we even go out the door to run, we need to have the motivation for it, and let’s be honest, it is quite challenging during the winter. Thus, what I do is think about the benefits of running in the cold. The most obvious one for me is the mental benefits of getting out the door when it is really easy to stay warm at home and remain in your comfort zone.
But this is not where we grow as humans. To be better, you have to do better, and this often means being different from the rest. Where most people would skip the run in the winter, some of us still decide to test our abilities and adapt to the challenge. This is how we elevate ourselves and become a stronger version of our self. Moreover, there is no better feeling than when you accomplish something hard, and you know that “you are a tough cookie”.
2. Winter running gear
Once you have decided that you are going out because you are a tough and dedicated runner, I suggest you prepare well for what is about to happen. If done properly, running in the cold is safe and even enjoyable. To make it such you need to have a good plan. I am sure that you always wonder what to wear in cold temperatures.
Firstly, I always check the temperatures and the overall conditions, so I can select the proper running gear for the winter. How many layers of clothes you are going to wear is totally up to you. Some runners prefer more, other runners prefer less. I am one of those runners that prefer to stay warm and cozy, even if this one extra layer will slow me down slightly. You do not need to feel extra fast every day, only on a race day, right? Or at least, this is my running philosophy, and it is totally okay if you have a different one.
It is important to make choices that feel good to you and boost your confidence. There are no strict rules for success. However, what type of layers you wear will matter. I always suggest you invest in high-quality wind and water-resistant running clothes. In addition, there are a lot of running shoes with a proper outsole, designed for winter conditions to prevent you from slipping or sliding. You can also try to buy shoes with GORE-TEX fabric that will keep your feet as dry as possible.
Gloves, headbands, hats – it is never a bad idea (or actually a must) to have those with you. Also, do not forget that you can always remove some layers, especially if you are running on a loop. but if you didn’t bring enough, you are putting your health at risk.
3. Start Easy
Now you are ready to go. But don’t rush. It will take more time for your muscles to warm up when the temperature is low. You may even increase your warm-up duration a bit. I like to add an extra kilometer or a mile to my warm-up routine when it’s cold. Otherwise, I really struggle to hit my splits from the beginning. Plus, you will add a bit more to your weekly volume which you can count as beneficial.
4. Bring some dry clothes
One of the most common concerns during the winter is that you can experience hypothermia. Layering up with clothes will help your body to regulate its temperature quickly, so if you have enough layers- you are safe to go. However, your body will rapidly cool down when you are done, so you need to have dry clothes with you! Unless you are running out and back to your home, you need to plan well what clothes to bring with you to change once you are done running.
I always like to have two extra tops, leggings, pants, warm socks, and a regular winter jacket. Oh, and yes – a cup of tea with honey will not only help your body feel warmer but also it will calm your mind nicely!
5. Be smart
Well, not every winter day is going to be perfect for running outside. Let’s imagine you have speedwork, fartlek, or fast-paced long run. If outside is freezing cold and icy everywhere, you won’t be able to do your training. Let’s be honest – running on the ice is risky even if you are doing a slow recovery run. To avoid injuries or missed workouts, you can always drive to the closest gym and use the treadmill. If your gym is closed due to the pandemic, just skip the training and wait for a better day. You can stay active doing some home workout with bands or your own body weight.
6. Enjoy it
Although for runners the winter season is strongly associated with running struggles, it can be quite enjoyable as well. I am sure we all have witnessed some incredibly beautiful winter days where nature provides its best. We can be more appreciative of these days and go for a run to tune in with the stunning surroundings. I often find it quite calming when the snow is falling down, everything is white and pure and it seems like the world is slowing down for a second. I like to use this time to get creative and give this precious time to my mind to solve my problems. At the end of the day, we can all find beauty in small things.
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