5 top tips for running in cold weather

Health Advisor

16 October 2017

5 tips for running in cold weather

When the cold weather rolls in it can be tempting to give up your outdoor running and switch to working out in the gym. But running outdoors in winter has so many health benefits, so I’d really recommend sticking with it if you can!

I know that running outdoors in the winter can be difficult, so I’ve come up with a few tips to make it a bit easier this year.

1) Get the right clothes

Making sure you’re dressed properly is possibly the most important tip I’ve got for you. You don’t want to catch hypothermia, but you also don’t want to overdress and find yourself overheating halfway through your run. 

Avoid big bulky jumpers and ski jackets, and instead focus on layering up specialised running gear.

While the temperatures are still in double figures, you’ll probably still be fine in shorts/leggings and a t-shirt. However, once the temperatures start dropping into single figures, you should start thinking about something a bit warmer.

In single figures you’ll definitely want leggings and a long-sleeved top. Invest in a proper running top, not just a plain cotton one. Look out for anything labelled ‘thermal’ ‘under armour’ or ‘base layer’, as these will be designed to keep you warm. Below 5 degrees, I’d also recommend adding in some gloves and a headband or hat to protect your ears. 

Once the temperatures fall below freezing, I’d recommend adding an extra layer. Stick to your thermal long-sleeved top, and on top of this add another top, a jacket or a bodywarmer. 

If the temperatures get really cold – think -10C and below – you will probably need three layers. I’d recommend a thermal long sleeved top, a t-shirt and a jacket, plus, of course, gloves and a hat!

Remember that running in winter also means running in the dark, so make sure you’ve got plenty of reflective clothing on, and you might even want to buy a head torch.

2) Take it easy at first

The above advice is just rough guide, since different people feel the cold differently! Plus, the type of running you’re doing can have a big impact on your choice of clothing. Those of you doing shorter but faster runs may warm up quickly, whereas those doing longer, gentler runs may feel the cold more. 

It may take a couple of runs before you get your clothing right, so make sure to plan a few shorter runs at first. If you suddenly find that you’re freezing cold and definitely not wearing enough layers, you’ll want to be able to cut your run short and head home as quickly as possible.

3) Remember to warm up 

Stepping outside in just your running gear can feel incredibly cold at first, so make sure to warm up indoors first. Run up and down the stairs, do some jumping jacks or run on the spot. This gets the blood moving and gets you nice and warm so you won’t feel so cold when you get outside. 

4) Get changed as quickly as possible

When you’re finished your run, get changed as quickly as possible so you don’t catch a chill from your damp clothes. This includes underwear and sports bras! A nice warm shower is always a good idea, but be careful it isn’t too hot as you don’t want to shock your body too much.

If you can’t get changed right away, for example if you’ve driven out to a running location, then at least change what you can or have a jumper handy to throw on top of everything. Gel hand warmers or a thermos of tea can also be great ways to keep warm on your drive home.

If you’re running with a group, try not to stand around afterwards chatting in the cold. If you want to socialise afterwards, head to a coffee shop or someone’s house where you can get changed in the bathroom and then enjoy a warm drink.

5) Get motivated

Sometimes the hardest thing about running in winter is just finding the motivation to leave your cosy living room and go outside in the cold.

One way I stay motivated during winter is by finding a running buddy or joining a local running club – it’s harder to flake out when there’s people waiting on you! The social aspect is also a great way to boost mood during the colder, darker months. And don’t forget there’s safety in numbers – if you slip on some snow or ice it’s good to have other people around. 

You can also download running apps that allow you to compete with friends and family, so they’ll know if you skip a run!

Share your tips

How do you stay motivated in the winter? Have you got any advice to make winter running more enjoyable? Share your tips and tricks in the comments section below!

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