If you are keen to keep running through the winter months, these tips might well prove helpful.
1: The right clothes
Winter running clothing is similar to summer running kit but involves a few more layers and adaptations.
Depending on the weather, you might start with a short or long-sleeved baselayer top, then add another base layer and then a windproof gilet or a waterproof/windproof jacket.
Running jackets need to be both breathable and water-resistant. A fully waterproof jacket that is also breathable is hard to find so most waterproof jackets are a compromise. My favourite brands are OMM, Salomon and inov-8.
Most people wear running tights in winter and these come in a range of different levels of warmth. Tights with a light fleecy inside will be ideal for cold running days.
In addition, you’ll need running gloves, socks and headwear, such as a buff or beanie hat.
If you are going to be running for more than an hour, it’s a good idea to carry a small running rucksack and add a lightweight insulated jacket. I find that if I stop for too long while running I get cold really quickly and a lightweight jacket helps to maintain my core temperature.
2: Better grip
Winter running, especially off road, requires shoes with a good level of grip. It depends on where you will be running because if it is muddy you need a more aggressive sole. If it’s icy or snowy you might want to add ice grips to the base of your shoes. For example, Snowline Chainsen are a great idea, as well as Yaktrax or Kahtoola style grips.
Many runners choose waterproof – usually Gore-Tex lined – trainers to help to keep their feet dry in winter. Running gaiters are a good way to stop the wet and damp coming in around the ankles.
3: Be safe and be seen
When it’s dark, it’s important that other people and vehicles can see you coming. Choose brightly coloured clothing, hi-viz tops, clothes with reflective details and lights, such as one worn on your upper arm or a head torch.
When running at night or off the beaten track, it’s a good idea to carry a phone with you in case of emergency. Pop it into a pocket or a small rucksack.
If you are running further afield, take a rucksack with a few important supplies such as water, snacks, extra layers and spare gloves.
4: Light your way
A good quality head torch is important if you plan to run at night. And, let’s face it, since the clocks have gone back many of us will need to run in the dark for the next few months. My favourtie head torch of all time is made by Silva, but it is quite procey. Another good option is the Edelrid Tauri headtorch.
5: Warm up and cool down
Muscles and joints get much colder and stiffer in winter so it’s important to do a good warm up before going for a run. Walk first, then build to a gentle jog before doing a series of dynamic stretches, such as lunges and squats. A warm up will help to prevent cold muscle injuries.
After a winter run you should stretch muscles out to make sure they are in great condition for your next run. This will help to dissapate the build up of lactic acid in the muscles, as well as helping wuth recovery and flexibility.
6: It’s better off-road
Running around the streets of your local area is easiest in winter because the days are short and the street lights will allow you to see your way ahead. However, it’s much more fun to go off-road and enjoy an adventure.
At first, it’s a good idea to head to a local park that you know well or on a well-trodden path so you do not get lost. A good quality headtorch will light your way and you will be surprised how well you can see the path or trail ahead with one small beam.
There is an otherworldly atmosphere when running at night, like charting a route through your own fairy tale scene. It’s very uplifting. If you are nervous, get a friend to go with you.
7: Meet with your mates
If you have friends who already run in winter and in the dark why not ask to join them? You’ll discover new routes and enjoy the experience more with other people.
A running club is another great choice for boosting motivation throughout the long, dark winter months. Running with other people can help you to develop a challenge, gives you more motivation and gives you a great chance to make friends.
8: Don’t let bad weather stop you
Outdoor running is the best way to boost your feel-good hormones but if it really is an awful weather day, a treadmill run is better than nothing at all.
9: Start early
The dark, cold and wet can easily put you off running in winter so get up early and go before you have time to think about it. Morning running in the winter will set you up for the day and have you smiling before you get to work.
Alternatively, make the most of the daylight by going for a run at lunchtime. The chances are, by the time you leave the office it will be getting dark and you’ll feel less inclined to run.
10: Challenge yourself
You could set your own goals for winter, such as running three times a week for at least 20 minutes each time, or run 30 winter miles in one month.
Other people join a group challenge like Marcothon, or the 5×50. Marcothon call on runners to run every day in December for 25 minutes or 5k, while the 5×50 is 50 days of exercise starting in January to raise funds for charity. See the things I am learning about Marcothon.