The colder, darker months don’t have to put a stop to your training goals. With the right kit and some smart contingency plans whilst keeping safety in mind, running through the winter can be invigorating and see you kickstart the new year with your fitness still on track.
Follow these winter running tips to stay warm and safe this season.
Do a proper warm up
Near-freezing temperatures and icy cold air in the winter months makes warming up even more important, especially if you’re running first thing in the morning.
Taking just five minutes before you run to do some dynamic running drills will help to activate key muscle groups like glutes, hamstrings and core, and mobilise your ankles, hips and lower back. Warming up properly every time you run will help to keep you injury free and performing at your best, whatever the weather.
Try these simple dynamic stretches before you get going:
- Standing leg kicks
- Static or walking front, back and side lunges
- Hamstring sweeps
- Ankle rotations or alphabet
- Open the gate (hip openers)
- Calf raises on a step
Layer up (so you can layer down)
Running in the dark of winter can be dangerous if you’re not visible to other road users and pedestrians. You don’t have to light yourself up like a Christmas tree (although it would be fun to do so!) but there are some running kit essentials for winter training that you won’t want to be without:
- Water-resistant / waterproof running jacket
- A warm and breathable base layer
- Decent running gloves
- A buff or ‘snood’ to be used as a headband or scarf (you’ll be surprised how much warmth these bring in icy conditions!)
- Head torch
- Reflective outer layer – many running tights have reflective panels sewn in to make you visible at night as well as reflective jackets.
The key is to layer up with light, technical and breathable winter running wear so you can remove layers as you go if needed. Stock up now so you can hit the ground running when the cold weather sets in.
Make a bad weather plan
For days when the weather really does win with ice or snow, line up an alternative workout to stay on track towards your goals. This could be swapping your run days with strength and conditioning, or hitting the treadmill to get your miles in safely.
If you find yourself indoors for your long slow run, find some podcasts or make a new playlist to keep you entertained and beat the boredom. If it’s a shorter session, get more bang for your buck by turning it into a progression run (jog warm up, 20-30 minutes run increasing speed throughout, cool down) or fartlek intervals with short speed bursts and slower recovery.
Try these treadmill workouts from Runner’s World to build speed and strength:
50 minute speed intervals:
5 minute warm up
4 minutes fast pace / 4 minutes recovery (x4)
5 minute cooldown
30 minute hill progression run to build strength:
6 minute warm up
1 minute fast pace 2% incline
1 minute fast pace 4% incline
1 minute fast pace 6% incline
1 minute fast pace 8% incline
2 minute recovery easy pace 1% incline
Repeat above 1 minute sections with 6%, 8%, 10%, 12% incline with 1% recovery
6 minute cooldown
Fix your niggles
Strength and conditioning should play an integral part in any running training plan, and winter is a great time to focus in on your weak spots at the gym to fix any niggles.
Incorporate exercises that mimic running motion and strengthen balance and power, such as single leg deadlifts, walking lunges, calf raises, glute bridges, squats, step ups and superman back extensions.
Add weights to your workouts and set up your home gym so you can build strength whilst hitting the miles outside or on the treadmill.