The weather outside is frightful. And so is the thought of running in the winter. It is cold and windy and then comes on the snowfall and then ice. So how do you start running when winter is in full force?
Many might be hoping that the answer is that you don’t.
But that’s not the case. Many people continue to run all winter long. And dare I say some acutely prefer it to warmer weather running.
This means you can start your running journey, even if there is snow outside. Many live in a climate where it’s cold and snowy for most of the year. This means they have no choice to get out there and not wait around for conditions to get better.
Here is how to start running in the winter.
There are a few runners who prefer running on the treadmill to outdoor running. But it isn’t the worst thing in the world. It actually is a great way to get started with running—especially in the winter months.
Using the treadmill gets the runner used to the act of running at their own speed. Because there are settings, the runner can get in a good warm-up walk, playing with the incline until they are warmed up and ready to jog.
Not only does treadmill running mean you don’t need to brave the cold, but it also means you can start a good base before starting longer runs outdoors in the spring.
And because stats like pace are right there on the machine, there is no need to invest in running watches just yet.
Beat boredom by watching TV at the gym or a podcast. Introduce intervals for fun speed work by increasing speed for a minute or two and then slowing back day to recover for a few seconds. This makes the time go by much faster.
Gear Up: Prepare For The Cold
To safely run in the winter runners need to layer up. Make sure to have the right gear and enough clothes to keep the chill at bay.
Here is what is needed based on temperature:
According to 1968 Boston Marathon winner and Runner’s World editor Amby Burfoot, runners wear two layers generally, not three. This includes a base layer that is made of breakable fabric and a top layer to insulate and block the wind.
However, when temps drop down low, this is time to add not hat cutter layer like a running vest or running jacket.
Winter running staples include gloves, a hat, and a running buff. Many prefer not to use a buff if they find it gets in the way of their breathing. Just remember to keep the head and hands warm.
Look for winter running apparel with pockets to store things like gloves or ear warmer when not needed during a milder run.
Also, invest in warmer crew socks that are breathable and made of moisture-wicking to avoid cold toes.
And because winter means less sunlit hours, get reflective gear like a reflective vest or jacket, shoe light, and headlamp to be able to navigate safely in the early morning and evenings. This also makes the runner visible to others like drivers on the road.
Warm The Body And Lungs
Ever run outside and there is a cloud that escapes your mouth and your chest burns with the cold? This is because the oxygen breathed in isn’t warmed up thanks to cold temps.
According to theNational Institute of Health, 12 to 15 percent of adults are affected by exercise-induced asthma. And cold air increases the risk of asthma.
This means it’s important to make sure the lungs are warmed up.
It’s also important to warm up the body to reduce the risk of injury.
This is both done by a dynamic warm-up. The goal of this kind of workout is to get the blood pumping so that it is ready to work. This includes things like jumping jacks, running in place high-knees, lunges and squats. A good idea is to do this indoors first before going outside.
Run With The Sun
One of the best tips for winter running is to run when it is the warmest out. This often means noon, ideal for getting in a good run in on the weekends.
But for many, this means they are at work or school and cannot squeeze a run in. You will have to schedule your runs in based on your available time, so don’t fret it if running when there is peak sun isn’t possible. This is just a great option for those who can because it isn’t as bone-chilling cold as in the early hours of the morning.
This is not the time to start aiming for long-distance for the first time. While more seasoned runners can and do run long in the winter, newcomers should want to keep their runs from 30- to 60-minutes tops.
Plan routes that are close to home or the car where you immediately change out of wet with sweatshirts with a dry one. Another good idea is to end the run by a coffee shop to warm up with some hot tea.
There are many more runners on paths and parks when the weather is nicer. Snow on the ground? Expect to see only serious runners.
This means it’s a good time of year to find a running friend.
Starting your running journey with someone else has multiple benefits. For starters, it’s someone to cure the loneliness of running alone. It’s that accountability to get out of bed and out the door. It’s also safer since there is power in numbers when going to a park or trails.
Traction Is Key
New runners should always get fitted for running sneakers to make sure they are the best for their feet. But getting a pair with traction is a great idea when starting in snowy conditions.
There are shoes made for trail running that are great options, but some brands create special versions of their popular shoes that have waterproof uppers, made for winter running.
Winter running means running on places with paved paths to prevent slips and accidents. But when there isn’t snow, feel free to hit the trails. Just use regular caution.
There are many benefits to winter running.
This includes curing those winter blues since running gives that boost in mood to increase happiness.
It’s a great way to ward off unwanted weight gain during the holiday season. And running in the cold weather burns more calories because the body is working harder to keep warm.
Don’t be intimidated by starting to run in the winter. You might be surprised how refreshing it is to get away from the hustle and bustle of the season and have time dedicated to yourself, your goals and personal growth.
Just remember that starting to run is hard it in its own. Running in the winter is even more challenging. We often want to stay in our nice warm beds or not rise earlier than we have to when it is still dark out.
Here are some tips to make sure to start running during the winter months:
- Set your clothes out the night before so they are ready.
- Place your alarm clock or phone away from the bed to make sure to physically get up.
- Change out of running clothes immediately, take a shower, and drink something hot to warm up after.
- Take advantage of New Year gym specials and sign up. Start indoors. The bonus is being able to strength train and attend other workout classes, which will help with running.
- Set a race or weight goal for the early spring. This means you have to train for the big day or continue to workout to reach that goal.
- Join running communities online and try linking up with a local running group for motivation.
- Ask for running gear for the holidays. New running tights or sneakers go a long way for motivation.
- Write down or use an app to track runs for accountability.
- Read running books or listen to running podcasts for tips, tricks, and motivation.
Running in every weather is great—and even fun. With the right mentality and dedication, it isn’t so hard to start running in the winter.