With the winter season around, runners will have a lot of challenges due to the cold and wet conditions associated with it. The weather becomes chilly and the surfaces become slippery making it unsafe to run. But, you don’t have to suspend your running during this cold winter season.
This guide offers the best advice to cold-weather runners who want to get the best out of their running. Continue reading to get tips for winter running.
Related: Best Running Shoes for Ice and Snow
Ultimate Guide to Winter Running: Everything You Need To Know
Is It Safe To Run During Winter?
A simple answer is YES – It’s safe to run during the winter season provided that you wear the correct running gear. Sufficient layering and insulation is inevitable whenever you hit the road during the cold season. This keeps you warm and dry during your running session.
In addition, ensure that you wear the right running shoes for ice and snow to keep your feet dry and free from injuries.
In case you have an injury or you’re under medication, ensure you consult your doctor before running in the cold.
Things to Consider When Running in Winter
Getting well-dressed for winter running is one of the most essential requirements for any runner. The correct running gear ensures your safety and comfort during the entire running session.
Not only does this prevent injuries but it also allows you to focus on your running which in turn improves your performance. Below is a brief summary of essential considerations for winter running.
Warm-Up Before Running
When temperatures get below 0°C your muscles tend to contract. So, if you begin running without a warm-up, you’re likely to suffer muscle cramps. Warm-up is essential regardless of the season of the year you’re running. However, in winter the warm-up time should be longer. Consider spending at least fifteen minutes to give your muscles time to warm-up.
Warm-up exercises should include stretching up to enable effective blood flow in the muscles. This gives muscles sufficient oxygen and nutrients for tackling high-energy activities such as running.
Breathing cold air through the mouth is among the biggest challenges when running in cold weather. Not only does it cause irritation in your lungs, but it also cools your mucous membrane and respiratory tract to very perilous levels.
Asthmatic individuals are likely to experience breathing difficulties when the inhale the cold winter air. Below are some tips to help maintain proper breathing when running in cold weather.
- Always observe nose breathing habits. Apart from cleaning the air, the nasal passage in your nose warms and humidifies the cold and dry winter air. This helps prevent breathing difficulties.
- Avoid going into the cold in a rush especially if you’re not in a competition. This reduces the tendency to breathe through the mouth.
- Cover your mouth with a breathable cloth or mask. As you breath out, the cloth or mask is warmed by the air from your lungs. Thus, the air you breathe in gets warmed by the cloth or mask before getting into the lungs.
Winter Running Gear
1. Winter Running Shoes
During winter, you expect the surfaces to be wet and sometimes covered with ice or snow. Thus, it requires specialised running shoes to tackle such surfaces. Your shoes need to provide sufficient grip on the ice or snow covered trails.
Shoes with large ridges on their outsoles are good for tackling ice and snow since they are less likely to slip. Alternatively you can purchase traction cleats for your running shoes to enhance their grip on snow.
The underfoot cushioning in your running shoes should be sufficient enough to protect your feet from injuries. Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX is a typical trail running shoe which can be adopted for winter running.
Another consideration to keep in mind is waterproofness. Both the outsole and upper unit should not allow water to get inside the shoe during your running session. This allows your feet to remain dry during your winter running.
What’s more, ensure that your shoes provide ample air circulation to keep your feet cool and dry.
2. Winter Running Jacket
A waterproof jacket is all you want to shield the upper part of your body from rain drops or drizzle. The correct size of jacket will ensure you run comfortably without undesirable interruptions.
For an extremely cold day, you may opt for additional insulation. In this case you can get a fleece jacket.
Whichever jacket you choose, it’s advisable to get one with a zipper because it allows you to vent whenever necessary.
Under Armor winter jackets are among the best in the market.
3. Running Tights
You can beat the cold weather either in winter tights or thermal tights. Winter tights are designed to shield your legs from the cold wind. But as the temperatures drop, you may opt for thermal tights to get some warmth.
Thermal tights are lined with fleece which both keeps you warm and prevents moisture build-up.
Check Daehlie Winter Tights on Amazon
4. Winter Running Socks
To keep your feet warm, ensure you get socks socks that have quality thick wool. They should also be capable of wicking moisture to keep your feet dry throughout your running session.
My favourite winter socks are the Alvada socks which are made with merino wool.
5. Winter Head Cover
Depending on the weather, you may need something to cover your head. For example, if it is raining or there’s heavy snow, you can get a woollen head beanie. This will keep your head warm and keep off precipitation form your face.
In case you suffer from asthma, a woollen face masks can help you prevent breathing difficulties.
6. Winter Running Gloves
Your hands remain exposed to the cold weather and the beating rain or snow. Therefore, it’s important to protect them by wearing lightweight woollen or fleece gloves. This helps keep them as warm as the rest of the body.
If it’s freezing out there, you can get heavy duty gloves which entail thick insulation.
7. Hydration Pack
Although it’s cold out there, you’ll need to quench your thirst now and then. You need an insulated hydration pack to prevent the water from freezing.
When choosing your hydration pack, ensure you get the correct size to avoid discomfort when running. A hydration pack that doubles a reflector jacket will be even a better choice if you’re running in dim light.
See Nathan hydration vest here!
Sometimes winter gets too extreme resulting in dim light during the day. Running in such conditions is not only difficult but also unsafe. Thus, you might need a headlamp or flashlight to light your running path.
Running during the winter season isn’t as challenging as many people may want to imagine. With the correct running gear and safety precautions, you’ll realise that it’s extremely safe to run during winter.
With this guide, you’re ready to beat the cold trails with confidence and heightened morale to achieve your fitness goals.