Well we may be out of the worst of the Winter and the days are getting longer, but if last week is anything to go by then we may still have some cold snaps before Spring! Getting the motivation to head out for a run can be tough, and when it’s cold and wet, it can be even harder! I’ve comprised a short tick list of tips on how to run in the colder weather.
Get your layering nailed
Everyone will warm up differently – you’ll know if you’re a hot or cold runner. Personally, it takes me a while to warm up and then I can quite quickly get too warm. My ideal layering for sub zero temperatures is: A long sleeve merino top (like the Montane Primino 140), a thin zip-neck (Like the Salomon Essential Seamless) and a Waterproof (like the Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket). Even when it’s not raining, it still helps to keep the cold wind out and can be stashed in my running pack if I get too warm. On the bottom I wear my Montane Trail Series Thermal Running tights which have a windstopper material in the front to protect my thighs from the cold wind.
If I get cold hands or I don’t have something on my head, then the rest of my body feels colder. I always take gloves and a hat. I’ve been living in my Montane VIA Trail Gloves and my Mad Moose Hat or headband (In the photo above!).
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
The likelihood is that you’ll do some, if not most of your winter running at night – thanks to the shorter days. Running in the dark can be disorientating and can slow you right down. Make sure you take a spare head torch and batteries. I have only had to use my spare headtorch once, but I was so thankful that I had it. I was still about an hour away from home, and the spare batteries for my main headtorch just weren’t working. They were full, but there was a connector issue inside the headtorch that I wouldn’t have been able to sort there and then. Thankfully I had my spare headtorch otherwise I would have been a bit stuck!
For my longer runs I also take spare layers and a first aid kit just in case I take a tumble and I have to wait for Mountain Rescue. Obviously, at the moment with current restrictions, I don’t want to be putting more pressure on our emergency services, so I’m sticking to well-known ‘safer’ routes. But, something can always go wrong, so I still go prepared!
Tell someone where you are going
Not the most important thing if you’re just nipping out for half an hour on the canal, but if you’re planning a long run in remote places, then it’s good to let your other half/mum/best friend know roughly where you’re going and what time you expect to be back. If you decide to go for a bit longer whilst you’re out then let them know so they don’t panic – it’s just courtesy!
Get a map and a compass – know how to use it
Phone Apps like ViewRanger are great, but phone batteries die – especially on colder days! It’s always good to have back up navigation in case you get lost (easy to do in bad weather). They’re cheap and once you know how to, they’re easy to use. I highly recommend booking a navigation course, but until restrictions ease, there is plenty of tutorials on YouTube! Once you get a bit of practical knowledge, the key is to practice in all conditions! Dark, wet, frosty – practice as much as you can until it becomes second nature.
Invest in good shoes
If there was ONE item I would tell you to invest in over the winter it would be shoes – and you can usually find websites selling stock that is a couple of years old for a good discount (SportsShoes is my favourite). I LIVE in my Salomon Speedcross – I don’t run in anything else all winter. I’ve also heard very good things about the Inov8 Mudclaws, but I am so sold on my Speedcross that I don’t have the guts to try anything else! Shoes with good, deep tread means that you can actually grip the ground rather than sliding around like you’re on an ice rink – you’ll enjoy your time out far more and you’ll actually get some decent training runs in!
Run within your limits
Now, obviously ‘limits’ is subjective. What some people find comfortable, other people will see it as out of their league. For me, winter is about building foundations. It’s a lot of Speedwork on the roads broken up with longer easy runs. Winter is not the time to be putting strain on the emergency services – especially with the current world circumstances. Stick to the trails you know, especially if you’re running in the dark and go prepared. There is plenty of time in the Summer to travel to new trails, set FKTs and play around with big self supported adventures.
Your body burns a lot of calories trying to keep you warm. Make sure you’re fuelling well before, during and after your run. I will have a small meal (like a sandwich) half an hour before my run, then I take a mix of gels and real food out if I’m running for over an hour. Then as soon as I finish I’ll have a protein shake and a nut bar or banana. My advice is always to take out more than what you need – just in case! Also, take food that you’ll enjoy eating. I hate flapjacks, but I always used to take them out with me cus they’re a good source of energy – all that would happen is I would just carry a load of flapjack around with me for hours, and then chuck it in the bin when I got home.
Well Ferals, I hope that helps! If you have any extra cold weather running tips I’d LOVE to hear them! Pop them in the comments section below to share them with me (and all the other readers!).
Til next time Trail Lovers – Have a great week!
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