Yeah, yeah, yeah dress in layers, 10 degrees warmer, warm up inside and don’t fall right? Well this year I think I’ll be jumping into training mode in late February, Brrr. Will it ever be spring/fall running, no, but if you know what you’re doing it’s not that bad. Mostly I have tips for you but there are some products that make it better too. Wile winter running isn’t something I would ever say I like, but when I get out there, I love running in winter. I’ve divided this up into tips and tricks, motivation, products at the end the few reasons winter running is actually better. Just a few though!
Tips and Tricks
Skip the warm jacket
You might think the key to winter running when the mercury drops is a nice warm jacket, well you would be dead wrong about that. There is a much cheaper and way better option than that, that never happens right. Well get yourself a nice thick, ideally hooded, wicking (possibly) specialty running sweatshirt. One winter running truth is that you’ll want a jacket when you start and then get inexplicably warm but you’re stuck with the jacket. The sweatshirt light jacket option has the following advantages, it’s cheaper than a fancy winter running coat, you might already own it, you can break it up and deal with a wider array of conditions. You can take off the light jacket and jam it into a pocket or pouch, my sweatshirt has a fount pouch that’s prefect of jacket storage. It also keeps you warm and or protects you from the wind if you have one warm jacket it’s just and but no or. Like today turns out the ideal mix was shirt zippered all the way up, jacket 3/4 up, sleeves rolled up on jacket to elbows but not sweater and gloves on, I’m a complicated lady.
And ask the internet what to wear
I’m 34, I am a smart fully functioning adult and I can’t dress myself for a run, even if the weather is the same and I went for a run yesterday. Thankfully with technology I never, ever have to acquire that skill. Check out this page at runners world https://www.runnersworld.com/what-to-wear. You’ll never have to dress yourself again. When you think you know better you will be wrong and it even includes underwear, crisis averted. You put in things like your workout intensity and the weather conditions and out pops your outfit, just like Cher in Clueless.
Preventatively treat joint injuries
It always seems that when the weather is colder those old injuries nag at you even if they don’t actually flare up. Avoid this by preventatively doing the physio ex-resizes for it and keeping your foam roller close. Who knows why maybe its the fact the ground is frozen of the surfaces we end up running on are harder, maybe it’s just the cold but if you’ve dealt with runners knee or similar in the past bust out those exercises.
Keep your phone warm
I’m not sure if it’s only iPhones, older iPhones or phones in general but when they get cold they shut down at like any %. Keep it warm by putting it in you pocket close to your body or even sew an extra fleece pocket into your warmer running pants and wear it inside the waistband of your warmest pants. If it’s windy a plastic ziplock bag can help a lot too, plus you can still use the screen through it. Or spring for a Garmin with GPS or apple watch 3 with cellular, I’ll be making a phone cozy but…
Thick headbands for headlamps
Wear tonnes of lights and headbands to keep safe but you can read more about that in this post about exercising in the country and being safe. And probably the most important one is the head lamp. It really grabs driver’s attention and lights your way for those sections where street lamps are few and far between but they sort of hurt. Getting a few headbands can really help with that. Look for ones with a bit of thickness. I have one that is thick in the padded sense but thin enough that It cushions my headlamp but I can still wear it if it is dark and warm. One that is wide enough to wear when you almost need a hat and of course you can wear it over a hat and with one of those headbands should you need extra cushioning. You know what they say happy forehead happy run.
You know that saying just commit to doing 15 minutes and you’ll probably do more. Sometimes, especially in winter, that’s too big an ask. I find success in just getting dressed, going through my pre-run routine all the while telling myself I don’t have to actually go. Like sneakers on, phone charged and water belt loaded. Once I’m dressed and ready go the ‘might as well’ part of my personality takes over and I almost always get out there. I should be motivated in winter just like the summer since I’m an adult and all but… I occasionally need to lie to myself more than a tad.
Register for a race in spring (or a few in winter)
Weirdly runners fret about embarrassing themselves at races, even though there is always someone else in last place. However a race date (or even untimed fun run) looming in the future gets us out pretty consistently in the weeks leading up to it. You could register for one small one a month, bonus you can pick affordable and charitable ones too, to get you out there all winter. Or… put your $ on the line now for a big race early in the spring. But keep in mind you might have to make arrangements to use a dreadmill if the weather goes south (or north) for a stretch.
Plan your runs with the forecast
Look ahead at the week’s forecast pick the best days to be out there then clear your schedule to make it happen. Then if your tempted to skip your workout you’ll know you’re only making it worse for yourself. You’ll know you picked this specific time for a whole host of good reasons. If you look ahead and there is no good weather you’ll know it’s probably a treadmill week and accept that early on. You also don’t have to actually join a gym to get access, you can go on a friend’s buddy pass, go for a free trial or maybe pay a drop in fee but… expect to be pulled aside for a hard sell if that happens. You can join for a couple of months only, but expect the year longs sell. Make it clear (repeatedly and politely) that you won’t be doing the year. But there are other, nicer options. I use the gym facilities at our local community centre for a $5 drop in fee and monthly membership is $20, just pay for the months you come. You can usually pay a drop in fee at city rec centres, YMCAs and maybe even senior’s centres. My friend live in REALLY rural nowhereville and she does a donation to the senior’s centre since it’s the only treadmill around. If you have the space you can probably find one for free in your area online or from a friend. People get tiered of their exercise equipment mocking them eventually.
Products you might find useful
Even if you stay away from the snow while it’s falling shady spots and while winter generally mean you’ll run into some of the white stuff now and then. Sometimes when you least expect it. It’s a good idea to wear your trail runners while your out there or at least something with a bit of an aggressive tread. Plus new shoes always get you out there more often for a bit. And then you can look for trail races next season!
Proper running gloves
I tried all the cheap ones, my mom bought me a few pairs that were sworn to be smart phone friendly. They weren’t, they made my hands sweaty and since they were normal glove short they made my wrists cold. Then last year honey bought me a pair of nike ones and I immediately resigned myself to loosing them one at a time. They are the right amount of breathable, have finger pads in the right places only for the phone and they are pink. If they are too cold to work the phone just rub em together, get some friction going and change the song. Plus I still have both of them, and if I do loose one I’ll be buying more.
Pocket shaped water bottles
If it really really gets cold your water might freeze while your out there on you belt. If you grab a few pocket shaped small water bottles you can keep them closer to yourself and not frozen while your out there rather than going without. You might not think you need it when your running in the cold but you still need to stay hydrated. Since the colder the air is the less moisture it I find it really dries out my mouth and throat and I like having a sip of water available even when it’s cold. I find my bottles like this tend to get mouldy smelling fast so you might want to pick up a little bleach to since them out with too.
Heads Up yarn
Alright very specific recommendation here. Head’s up yarn by Red Heart, some of these images are from their site. I hate wearing a hat when I run so making my own to exact specification was ideal and I ended up remaking it three times, although I was learning to crochet at the time too. It’s cute enough to wear all the time but it is made of bright colours and it has a thread of reflective material running through it. When car lights hit, it lights up like crazy. I even added a cute flower at the front for style and extra headlamp cushioning. If you have a knitter or a crocheter in your life ask them I’m sure they would love to help. Although the skeins are small so maybe buy two for you hat, especially for crochet.
Reasons winter running is better
- Your water stays cold, and even gets colder
- You can always blame a walk break on slippery roads
- Running in the dark in flurries makes you feel super tough and dedicated
- You look great come that first warm tank and shorts day in may
- No need to re-up you fitness every spring
- Leaving footprints in freshly fallen snow