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> Running in winter – how to prepare for running in the cold weather? 

Running in winter – how to prepare for running in the cold weather? 

Publish date 07.12.2022

You can read it in 12 minut

Running in winter – how to prepare for running in the cold weather? 

Snow, winter, and cold weather. Most people dream only of warm tea and a fluffy blanket. But not you! You go for a run. Great! After all, even when the weather outside is not ideal you need to have a scheduled workout. Well, unless the conditions are dire.

However, remember, don’t go out unprepared for running in winter. In this article, I will show you how to prepare for running in cold weather. I’ll tell you how to properly prepare for this workout. This way you will have all the necessary things and be able to go on winter running!

Let’s go! 

Running in winter – benefits 

  • Good form in the summer – if you want to get in shape, take care of your health and, above all, your figure even in winter. We know how it is, on winter days no one wants to leave the house, Laziness, lying under a blanket – this will result in the loss of the form you nurtured when it was warm. Therefore, running in winter will contribute to running when the weather is more pleasant. 
  • You will improve your running skills – in winter the trails are more difficult – sometimes you have to run in the snow, be careful of mud and puddles, and avoid slipping on ice. 
  • Muscle strengthening – I just mentioned the frozen surface. By having to be more careful on it and maneuvering well so as not to fall, you engage your muscles more during your workout. 
  • Better aerobic capacity – want to build your aerobic capacity? Winter is a perfect time. Because of the cold outside, the body has to work harder to keep the body at an even temperature. Therefore, the cardiovascular system becomes more efficient. 
  • Toughen up physically and mentally – the cold will allow you to become more resilient. By running in winter, you will not only get used to the lower temperature but also strengthen your immune system. It will also positively affect your psyche. Constantly sitting indoors can drive you crazy, and even a short jog can make you feel better. 
  • Better mood – running will allow you to release the happiness hormone – endorphins. This is very important, especially in winter, when we can often get depressed about the end of the year, preparing for the holidays and lack of sunshine. 
  • You’ll stay hydrated more easily – think back to your workouts in the summer. You were probably all sweaty. In winter, through low temperatures, sweating is reduced. Therefore, the risk of dehydration drops a lot. Well, unless you have dressed very thickly and after a while, you feel that you start to sweat (I will talk about clothing later in the article). 

Winter running – disadvantages

  • Greater risk of falling – on frozen sections of the route it is very easy to lose balance and fall. Even if you are very careful you can land on your bottom. 
  • More difficult running through the snow – there are sections without snow on the pavement that are sanded. However, some paths are forgotten. There, snow accumulates all the time. It is difficult to run through the huge snow drifts. 
  • Night, night, and more night – in this case, it doesn’t matter whether you run in the morning, or in the evening it will always be dark outside, and only street lights will show you the way. Training in such conditions is not 100% safe. 
  • Shoes vs salt – to make the paths not slippery they are sprinkled with salt. This is good because you won’t fall on your bottom, but the salt will destroy your running shoes. 

Running in winter – preparation 

Check the weather before you go running in winter 

In winter, you can expect different conditions. I know that you want to go out jogging and continue to stick to your training plan even in the wintertime. 

However, keep in mind that the conditions outside will not always be suitable. Give up running if it is snowing intensely thick outside or raining very hard. 

Also, give up running when it is wet outside and the temperature is below freezing. Why? The paths and the road you want to run on may be covered with slippery ice. One careless step and you could end up falling over. 

There are special shoe overlays on the market that will even allow you to run on ice. However, if you don’t have them, postpone your workout for another day until the surface is not so slippery. 

Check the air quality 

It’s cold outside, so everyone is starting to heat their homes and apartments. By which more carbon dioxide enters the air and smog are formed. This is especially noticeable in large cities and towns that are located in valleys. You can quickly find the air quality on the Internet – just type in the name of your city or village. This will allow you to check whether the air pollution is exceeded and whether it is safe to exercise. 

“Do I need to check the air conditions before running? Why is it so important?”

When you run your breathing speeds up. Therefore, almost 15 times more air enters your lungs than when you normally walk. This is polluted air, which is not healthy, pollutants and other harmful dust get into your lungs. What can this result in? 

  • negative effects on the nervous system, 
  • negative effect on concentration and memory,
  • headache and dizziness,
  • reduced lung capacity, 
  • chest pains,
  • coughing and respiratory infection. 

Exceeded air pollution norm – when to run and when to postpone your training?

If air pollution exceeds 200% over standards, then it’s best to postpone training until the next day, when air quality normalizes. If you are very keen on training, then choose those paths where air pollution is lower. You may also be tempted to drive outside the city to train and discover new running routes. 

When air pollution standards are not significantly exceeded and range between 100-200% of the norm, that’s when you should take an anti-smog mask with you. It will protect your respiratory tract from inhaling harmful dust. Ideally, the anti-smog mask should adhere to your face, especially in the nasal area. 

Winter running – immunity system 

The winter period is associated with various diseases, all due to lowered immunity. If you want to run in the winter then you need to take care of your immune system. How to do it? 

Eat healthily. Supplement your menu with vegetables and fruits to provide vitamins and carbohydrates for energy. Remember to get enough sleep – it can also negatively affect the immune system. 

Regularity of training is also important in winter. If you go out jogging regularly, your body will get used to the lower temperature. 

Warm-up and stretch before you leave the house to run in the winter 

Before you embark on winter running remember the most important thing – a warm-up before running. Perform it at home, and not in the cold weather outside. It should last about 10-15 minutes. Choose dynamic exercises. 

Have you finished your workout? Do some stretching exercises after running at home. This will prevent huge soreness for the next day. 

Choose the right clothing for winter 

During the winter season, it is very important to protect parts of the body that are particularly vulnerable to frostbite. The right clothes for winter are the basis if you want to go for a run. Best stick to the rule to dress as if it were 10 degrees warmer outside. 

If you put too many layers on, you will start sweating faster. You don’t want that in winter. In addition, you will lose valuable fluids faster and there will be a higher risk of dehydration. 

If we’re already talking about layers, I’ll briefly tell you the best way to dress for winter running training. 

  • 1 Layer: stock up on underwear and a thermal shirt. It is best to choose a technical material – it protects against wind and rain, wicks sweat to the outside, dries quickly, and is comfortable. 
  • 2nd layer: leggings and a sweatshirt is an excellent choices if it is chilly but not freezing outside. In this case, too, it is worth choosing clothes made of technical material. It is good for the clothes to have reflective elements on them. 
  • 3rd layer: winter running jacket – wear it if it is very cold outside. The most important thing is that it should be light and not restrict your movements while running. 

Is it always necessary to wear 3 layers? No. It all depends on what the weather is like outside. Even if you are chilly when you go out for a run, your body will warm up after a few minutes of running. 

Additional accessories for running in winter 

  • Running beanies – with a beanie you will protect your head from losing heat and from the cold. It is best to choose technical material. Beanies made of cotton do not give sweat to the outside and your head becomes wet. Choose such beanies that have an extension at the ears and neck area. If it’s too warm for a beanie, and you want to protect sensitive points: ears, forehead, and sinuses, then choose a headband for running in winter. 
  • Sunglasses – “really?” Yes, sunglasses. It can be sunny on winter days, and then the light that will reflect off the white snow can irritate your eyes. Therefore, to protect your eyes from UV rays, put sunglasses on.  
  • Neck gaiter – It is a multifunctional piece of clothing. However, it primarily protects your throat, cheeks, ears, and nose. You can wear it around your neck and cover up parts of your body that are sensitive to the cold, or use it as a beanie or headband. 
  • Anti-smog mask – I have already mentioned it, but it is worth reminding you. Such a mask should fit your face, protect your nose well, and allow you to breathe in it. 
  • Gloves – protect your hands during training. Gloves will make sure your hands don’t freeze. To use your phone, choose a model that has a special material on the thumb. 
  • Winter running vest – if it is warm, it is a good idea to wear a vest instead of a jacket. It should be light, thin, and have reflective elements. You can wear it over a sweatshirt. Use it also in heavy frost – put on a sweatshirt, vest, and running winter jacket. 

If you want to learn more about what clothes and accessories to choose for winter running, check out my article: What to wear for running in winter? – winter running clothes. 

Running in the cold – choose proper shoes  

When you are going to run in the winter you will need not only the right shoes that are suitable for these weather conditions but also accessories that will make running easier and more fun. 

  • Shoes – when choosing the right shoes for winter, first of all, focus on making sure they are warm. Several features are still worth paying attention to higher upper, strong lug, and coating protecting from water. Moreover, if you know that your running route is not often cleared of snow and you will have to run in the snow, choose shoes with extra spikes. 
  • Socks – should be warm and soft. Choose high socks that are made from a material that wicks away moisture. 
  • Slip-resistant shoe covers – will allow you to run safely on frozen and slippery roads. They are lightweight, so you won’t feel the extra burden. 
  • Gaiters – this accessory will keep snow from getting into the shoes. Wear them over the upper of the shoe. 

After winter running – shoes care 

When it comes to winter running tips it is important to know how to take care of your shoes after training. The biggest mistake that many people make is that they put their shoes on the radiator or by the fireplace when they return. Don’t do it. It will only destroy the shoes, as the heat has a bad effect on the structure of the shoe and can become dislodged. 

It is best to clean the shoes thoroughly, and then put newspapers or toilet paper inside. Paper absorbs water, and this is why shoes will dry faster. 

Be visible in the winter on the route

When choosing clothes for running in the winter, it is worth looking at whether a particular model has reflective elements. If not and you already have the clothes in your home then it is worth getting reflective tapes. You will be able to put them on your sleeves or legs very easily and run safely. You’ll be visible to drivers if you’re running in winter on a route close to main roads. 

You can also purchase a headlamp. This will not only make you visible to cars and walkers but also allow you to run safely. You will light your way and in the darkness, you won’t step in a puddle or trip over a branch or stone. 

The last method is simply to run on very well-lit trails. Such places are safe for runners because not only can you see exactly where you are running, but there is also a much lower likelihood that someone will attack you. 

Running in the cold weather – technique, pace, and tips 

  • Look at the kilometers that you run, not time – it’s difficult to run fast during the winter season. All because of the frozen and slippery roads. Therefore, during the winter period, look at how many kilometers you have run, not at what time. The time will naturally increase. Run longer and safer. 
  • Don’t bend your knees hard – why? This can harm your knee joints. I know it can be difficult because in the winter when you are trying to keep your balance, your knees themselves bend harder for the body to be more stable. However, try to make your postures like in spring, summer, and autumn. 
  • Be careful – running in winter always involves the risk of injury, even by simply slipping on a slippery surface. The most dangerous are invisible ice under a layer of snow. 
  • Be systematic – you will get used to the cold weather if you run systematically. If not, then you may catch a cold faster. 
  • Run all the time, don’t stop – you may get chilled, so run all the time, after warming up immediately go outside, start with a jog, and then move on to a normal run. After the workout, quickly return home and do stretching. 
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Running in winter on a treadmill – when to choose this option? 

Choose a treadmill instead of running outside when the weather outside is unfavorable. I’m thinking of heavy rain, snowstorms, strong winds, and very low temperatures. Then it’s a good idea to stay at home and postpone your workout until the next day or go to the gym and train on the treadmill. 

Earlier I mentioned not to run if air pollution exceeds the 200% norm. That’s when you go to the gym on a treadmill, or use your equipment at home if you have one. 

Choose a treadmill if you want to do a tempo workout. To prepare well for spring training, you need to add in intervals and tempo training during the winter. It’s better not to do them on unstable and slippery ground. Head to the gym and do your training there safely. 

Tips for running in winter – how to get motivated to run in winter? 

 There are several ways to do it:  

  • Run with friends – nothing motivates like another person. When you don’t want to go out, your friend is sure to find some way to get you out for a run. Mutual motivation is very important. 
  • Reward yourself – after your workout, drink hot chocolate, make some warm tea, take a warm bath, cover yourself with a blanket and relax with a book. There are many options! Choose what will motivate you the most. 
  • Music – while running, turn on some music. It is sure to make the time go by faster. Moreover, music can also set the right pace for your workout. 
  • Choose different running routes – if you run on the same route all the time, your workout may get boring. Choose different running routes so that it doesn’t get monotonous and boring. 
  • Sign up for competitions – the best motivation? When you need to achieve a goal. Sign up for competitions, that way you will have to train regularly to prepare well for the run. 

These are all the tips for running in the cold that I have for you. As you can see, there is a bit of it, but no surprise – all because of the low temperatures. When running in the winter, remember first of all to wear the right clothes and shoes. Also, pay attention to the weather and air quality. Nothing will happen if you postpone your workout to the next day if it is snowing or raining outside. 

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