It doesnâ€™t matter whether youâ€™ve been training for years or if you just decided to start working out in the new year; the cold winter months can be unpleasant enough to deter even the most determined runners. When you consider heading out into the harsh winds and braving the slippery spots on your favorite running trails, you may feel more inclined to use the treadmill or take a day off from training altogether. Luckily, several dedicated runners from cold climates around the world have identified key strategies for reducing the difficulty of running in the winter. From selecting the right warm-up routine to maintaining your motivation all season long, here are 5 winter training tips to stay in shape during these chilly months.
1. Choose the right footwear.
If your typical running path tends to get covered in a layer of snow and ice, youâ€™ll require supportive shoes that have great traction and good insulation. Since most running shoes are usually made with mesh to reduce weight and improve breathability, youâ€™ll either want to buy a sturdier set of winter running shoes or cover the mesh parts of your current shoes with duct tape to keep your feet warm. Whichever option you choose, remember to wear warm socks that are capable of wicking away moisture.
2. Bundle up in layers.
As former professional athlete Herwig Natmessnig says, â€œDress like an onion!â€ In other words, youâ€™ll want to strategically layer your clothes so itâ€™s easy to remove articles if you get too warm. For instance, itâ€™s recommended to begin with a standard base layer of breathable fabrics, like leggings and a moisture-wicking long sleeve shirt. The second layer should be warmer items designed to regulate your body temperature, such as a warm fleece jacket or a pair of joggers. The third and final layer includes items like gloves, hats, vests, and other articles of clothing to protect your skin from the harsh winter elements.
Although wearing more layers is far better than not wearing enough, certified strength and conditioning specialist Anthony J. Yeung explains, â€œYou should dress for warmth, but you shouldn’t dress like you’re climbing Mount Everest.â€ Since your body temperature will rise during your workout, a good rule of thumb is to dress as if itâ€™s about 20 degrees warmer than it really is. For example, if itâ€™s 10â„‰ outside, dress like itâ€™s 30â„‰ (which would be a balmy day in mid-winter Minnesota!).
3. Do your warm-up routine indoors.
Your muscles are more prone to damage when theyâ€™re cold, which is why next up in these winter training tips is beginning your routine with a good warm-up! Before venturing out into the cold, spend a few extra minutes doing some jumping jacks, walking high-knee exercises, or jumping rope to get your muscles loosened up. Additionally, as Natmessnig succinctly explains, â€œThe cold wonâ€™t bother you much if you warm up before your run.â€ Just be sure not to work up too much of a sweat before stepping outdoors.
4. Prevent post-workout chills.
As soon as you stop running, your body temperature will begin to drop. Getting out of your damp workout gear and changing into warm, dry clothing should be your first priority to avoid feeling shivery long after your run. If you have to drive home after your workout, you might want to consider bringing along a thick winter jacket and a thermos of hot chocolate or tea in your car to enjoy after a training session. Stopping by a local coffee shop with a friend can also be a way to motivate you to follow through with your running regimen! You are writing down these winter training tips…right?
5. Boost your motivation by committing to a race.
If you donâ€™t have a clear goal or target to work towards, it can be really tempting to take a few too many â€œcheat daysâ€ or give up on your workout goals altogether. Even the most dedicated of runners will start to question their motivation. However, signing up for a race forces you to hold yourself accountable to your regimen so youâ€™ll be able to participate in the event. In fact, we heard the Big Dam Run is a great place to start!
Wagentoâ€™s Big Dam Run (an annual 5K race) will be taking place virtually in 2021! Sign up today for the online event and participate from anywhere around the world from April 10-17, 2021. Weâ€™re looking forward to (virtually) seeing you there!