Well if it’s not here already (it snowed in London yesterday), Winter is coming… and it’s coming fast. Today I’m sharing with you some tactics I use to get outside for a run during the cooler months.
1. Create a ‘pro-run’ decision making environment
Haven’t decided whether or not you should go for that run after all? Contemplate it after you get changed. It will be one less barrier to consider before making your decision and one more reason to just run already!
Not sure what to wear? Set out your gear the night before a morning run or in the morning of your planned evening run.
For me the hardest part about getting up early on a cold-dark winter morning is having to get out of your warm bed. To combat the temptation of sleeping in, I set my running gear out the night before and leave it near the radiator so it is nice and warm for me by the time my alarm goes off. This tactic has salvaged countless morning runs.
Bottom line: the easier you make it to get into your running gear, the more likely you’ll go for a run.
2. How to gear up — effective layering
There is no one-size-fits-all rule to gearing up for a run in the cold… this is why layers are key. Everyone feels the cold differently. Effective layering means you are warm enough at the beginning of your run but you also avoid overheating during the remainder of it.
For me, my hands always overheat on a run; it can be really uncomfortable. In response to this I usually fold my sleeves over my hands rather than using a light pair of gloves. This can often mean my fingers are a bit cold at first, but comfortable by the time I’m warmed up.
You can buy tops that have ‘fold-over sleeves’ built in and they are always my favourite. The top I’m wearing in this post is a GapFit fleece-lined hoodie.
What are my favourite pieces of Winter gear?
Vests/Gilets and Headband/Neck Warmers are my favourite go-to winter items.
The Vest/Gilet: I’ll wear a vest with a lighter top for days where it’s not so cold but you want to keep your body warm. Or I’ll wear it with a heavy, really warm top as a belt-and-braces approach for those days where the cold weather is relentless. If you’re looking to invest in a vest for running, avoid big fluffy ones.
The Headband/Neck Warmer: This piece of gear cost me £5 and it is the most warn piece of gear I own. I wear it all of the time — usually as a head band when I am running and a neck warmer when I’m riding. The best part about it… if it ends up being too warm outside, it’s easy to wrap around your wrist rather than having to find a pocket mid-run to store it in.
3. Protect your skin
I have very dry skin year-round, but the winter months really highlight it. When running in the cold I make sure to wear lip balm and to moisturize my face before heading out.
Finally it is important to protect your extremities… be sure to cover up.
4. Fit in a warm up
This is what goes through my mind when I consider warming up…
After some serious contemplation I’ve finally made the decision to go for that run… I’m outside now and I’m a bit cold because I know I’ll overheat otherwise. All I want to do now is run. Run and get warm already. Run and get back home already.
It’s cold outside, therefore you’re cold, therefore your body isn’t ready to run at full-tilt… we all know the importance of warming up properly, but it is easier said than done. Here is my routine for fitting in a warm up + avoiding the temptation of going back inside.
My instincts are telling me to run and get warm already. So I run. I’ll start slowly and get moving away from my front door.
After about 3-5 minutes, I’m beginning to warm up and the option of going back inside the house is no longer in my proximity. At this point, I try to do a few dynamic exercises… I’ll mix it up but generally do some walking lunges, standing squats, butt kicks, high knees and skipping. After a few minutes of this, my run can properly get started.
Some people like to warm up inside. For me, this doesn’t work because I’ll end up staying in or cutting it short. Test out what works best for you.
5. Cold sweats
Firstly – well done for getting outside and running in the cold!
Pre-run we have to avoid gear that will cause us to overheat and deal with the fact that we might be a bit cold at first… now that you’re back, priorities have changed to exactly the opposite.
As soon as you return from a winter run, change out of your gear. You might not notice it, but you’ll still sweat when running in the cold. Avoid getting a chill and change out of those clothes as soon as you get back.
6. Too cold
Let’s get real… sometimes it’s just too cold or too slippery to execute an affective run during the winter months; so running indoors might be your only option. If this is the case, having a gym membership might be necessary to access a treadmill. Put the treadmill to 1.5% incline to better simulate road running. Or if it’s a one-off cold day, just take the day off!
Gear in this post
- GapFit Fleece-Lined Hoodie (here)
- GapFit tights (here)
- Columbia base-layer (here)
- Nike vest/gilet (similar here)
- New Balance Shoes (here)
- Mountain Warehouse Headband (here)