Winter Running Tips - By Steve Jackson

Conquer the Cold K’s!

Making it happen:

Set your alarm, maybe set two. Put one out of arms reach so you have to get out of bed quickly before it wakes anyone else!

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best; you can always choose to ditch the beanie, but searching for it in the wee hours is no fun; have all your gear laid out the night before.  Pack a change of clothes and a towel for post run if its not finishing at home

Plan to meet up with a run buddy. They’re no doubt fighting the same demons inside their head too; but if you can guilt each other into meeting up; everybody wins – and if they don’t show (assuming you still run); that commitment has still fulfilled its purpose!

Warm up – makes sense; skip, stairs in the apartment, dynamic stretches like legs swings etc. before you brave the blizzard.

There’s plenty of time for chatter once you’re up and running. Stay in the sanctity of the car and let the first door opened cue the start of the run!

Start into the wind, so when you head for home, the wind will be at your back and that sweat wont be contributing to the chill factor.

Set yourself up to shred…layers:

Good tip is to still wear as your inner layer, what you would normally run in at anytime of year; comfortable, moisture wicking gear.

Top to toe; keeping all the body warm will help you to run, both mentally and physically.  A warm head, hands and ears will make you more comfortable.

Your outer layers roles is too trap heat and stop wind chill. Too thick and your body will cook. You should still feel a bit cool.

Neck sleeves, headbands, beanies, gloves, ear warmers can make a world of difference in getting you starting and can easily fit in a pocket or belt if you get too warm – better that than the alternative.

Real men wear tights. The ladies will more likely have these as a staple in the running wardrobe, but the blokes may not be as comfortable embracing the lycra but again, a great insurance policy. Comfortable and kill it in the cold whether it be with compression or just regulation running tights.

Wearable to make it bearable:

Light up and be seen in the shorter daylight hours

Long sleeve jackets or tops with a thumb loop are great at closing the gap between glove and forearm.

Shoes, well this is a given. Unless your from high country; you probably not looking for the snow chains (insert photo here), but do make sure you’ve got shoes with good traction for the conditions you’re most likely to encounter.

Soggy socks suck. As tempting it is to wear the big thick socks, stay with moisture wicking and cushioned socks that will let your feet breath and won’t lead to blisters; which will curtail your running quicker than the cold will! There’s some fantastic waterproof socks from ANTU, and if its good enough fro sheep in winter; the wool and merino socks are good enough for us too!

Get really cold where you are boys? There are wind briefs with a wind proof front panel to ensure the essentials are protected; no excuses.

Get changed as soon as possible when you’re done. Standing around in damp clothes is not wise. Maybe order the coffee and jump into the changeroom to rug up in something dry while you’re waiting.

Fuel the fire:

Sure have the log fire ready for you when you roll through the door but what’s going to keep you cooking?

Caffeine is a known endurance enhancer so here’s an excuse to get you warmed up and out the door with a pre-run cuppa.

You will find things easier in the cooler conditions and whilst the sweat may not be as obvious, the body is still producing it and you need to rehydrate!

Post run recovery is a whole lot more attractive if you’ve got a yummy omelette, pancakes, steaming porridge or even swapping up a cool choccy milk for a hot chocolate.

Nothing is as it seems:

Your body is still sweating, burning energy, impacting on your muscles – but quite often you feel like you’re doing it easy. Don’t neglect your recovery; nutritional and physiological, just because it doesn’t feel as hard.

The temperature will affect how your heart works.; it’s working harder to pump blood to those tingling toes and frozen fingers, and so your monitor may be under-selling how hard you’re working. Don’t use your heart rate as the main tool for basing your workout on in the cold.

It looks normal but dew, rain and ice can change the dynamics and mean a fall for you. Take the cold as an opportunity to work on your technique; a good cadence keeps your contact time down and reduces the risk of slips, trips and falls.

Conditions conspire:

Sometimes it’s just not safe but you’ve done the hard yards and actually left the sanctuary of the sheets so have a fallback plan. Have a battery of home-based sessions; yoga, killer core workouts, a bodyweight circuit, floor pilates. All these will keep you limber and help sore or injured muscles to recover, draw attention to improving your breathing and build that supportive strength that will speed you to a goal come race time.

Take it indoors. A treadmill run is not ideal especially if it is your sole outlet for winter running; it can crush a soul! A gyms lack of stimuli actually keep your heart rate sedate and mind unfocused and the treadmill belt pushes you backward instead of your stride pulling you forward, whilst the set pace and elevation will only strengthen a limited portion of muscles. But it’s still a run; so if you’re going to go; go hard and get creative! If you’re going to go; go hard. Mix it up with varying speeds and inclines, tap into fun apps like ‘Run, Zombies’. If it means you get a run rather than stay huddled under the doona; then get out there (in there)!

Mindset matters:

It doesn’t matter if it’s the 36km point of the marathon or the lure of the bed; running is a mind game right? Stop treating the cold as an adversary and treat it like a friend. Have some mental cues that help.

Google winter running motivational quotes and you’ll get some great boosters

“It’s only cold if your standing still”,

“There is no bad weather, only bad clothing”

“Summer bodies are made in the winter”

Take away from this what you will but as all runners know; the reasons to run far outweigh reasons not too.

“Gee, I regret that run…said no runner, EVER!”