Cool runnings – top tips for safe winter running
The cold weather and dark evenings can be a challenge for any runner but for many winter is their favourite time of year to get out. Here are Melton Sports’ top tips for safe winter running.
Feet first – If you’re going to be pounding the pavements more then make sure your running shoes are up to it and can cushion your legs from the impact. If you’re going to be running off-road it will be muddy or slippery so invest in a pair of trail shoes for more grip and traction.
Run Right, Run Bright – When running early morning or evening and on grey days wear bright colours and something reflective. If you’re venturing away from street lights wear a head torch to see where you are going and to be seen. If you are struggling to schedule in a run after work ask yourself if you can you fit in a short one at lunchtime?
Layer up – Wear moisture wicking layers and, on really bitter days, a windproof jacket. And mind those extremities – keep your head, ears and hands warm. On a cold day you can lose as much as 40% body heat through your head and 30% through your hands. My top tip is to get your running kit out ready the evening before and put it in the airing cupboard – you’ll be ready in a jiffy and will be warming up those muscles before you even set off.
Ease into it – Breathing deeply and maintaining your regular pace in colder weather can be hard at first so use your first few winter runs as training to build a base. Try leaving your watch at home and get attuned to your surroundings instead. If you are new to running begin with run/walk intervals and build up steadily.
Run with others – Making a run ‘date’ will stop you making excuses when it’s dark outside as you won’t want to disappoint your friends. Chatting away will stop you setting off too quickly and, who knows, there could be a treat such as coffee and cake or a pint at the end of your run!
Stay hydrated – drink water or a sports drink before, during (if a long run) and after even if you’re not really thirsty to avoid dehydration and aid post run recovery. The wind and cold can dry the skin so add some oily fish / Omega 3 to your diet if you can.
Run defensively – Stop at crossings even if you have right of way and always run against the flow of traffic. Tread lightly, shortening your stride if it’s slippery but avoid icy roads at all costs – your balance will be no match for it – and head for the treadmill or do some core exercises instead.
Swap one run – As the weather and daylight are against you consider swapping one run a week for a strength and conditioning workout. There are plenty of ‘boot camp’ style sessions out there which don’t require gym membership. It will make for a change, boost your core strength and you can pay as you go.
Make the most of the weekend – Saturday is parkrun day while Sunday is often the best day for your long run and there’s no better pick-me-up than a run on a crisp winter’s morning.
Follow our advice and you’ll have a spring in your step for whatever challenges you’ve set yourself in 2018.