The organization of winter training can seem like a real puzzle because everything must be carefully thought out – the route, clothing, accessories. But in practice, it is not so difficult, and there are just a few “pitfalls” associated with training in the cold season.

Let’s consider what “good” is and what is “bad” in winter running.

Bad: Too much or too little clothing

Excessive layers of clothing, especially if they are not breathable, trap sweat and cause cooling rather than warming.

Forget natural fabrics: Fluffy, oversized hoodies look great on advertisements, but nothing more. Natural fabrics do not wick moisture away and do not protect from the wind, and casual clothes that are not intended for sports often hinder movement.

On the other hand, too little clothing is also bad. Of course, many have seen psychos seasoned runners who train in shorts even in freezing temperatures, but they have been going for this for years, and if this is your first running winter, you need to think about insulation.

Better: Layering in clothes

It is best to wear multiple layers. This way, even if you are overdressed, you can remove the intermediate layer not to overheat.

  • the base layer (tights and longsleeve) should fit snugly to the body – this will prevent cold air from getting on the skin
  • the middle layer, if there is a need for it, you can put on a fleece jacket
  • the top layer – the jacket – must be wind and waterproof.

The right mittens, hats, and neck warmers (such as buffs) are also important; otherwise, even if you dress properly, you will lose warmth due to uncovered areas of the body.

If you are afraid of running with wet feet, it is better to look for waterproof sneakers for the winter – look for models marked GTX, Runshield, or Winterized.

As a rule of thumb, for running, dress as if the temperature outside the window is 10 degrees warmer than the actual temperature.

When you go out the door, you must be cold – just accept it.

The first minutes of running in the cold feel uncomfortable. Usually, our body needs 10-15 minutes to warm up properly.

Bad: Not worrying about security

In the summer, everything is easier – he went out and ran. But the roads and trails you take in summer may not be as good in winter – for example, it’s dark, slippery, or the snow isn’t clearing away.

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If you plan on running outside all winter, take some precautions. Winter brings a whole different set of potentially dangerous situations with it, and you need to be prepared for them.

Better: Plan a route and make it visible

The daylight hours are short in winter, and jogging is often done during the dark hours of the day, be it morning or evening. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you can be seen by motorists and other people: wear reflective clothing, such as a special vest.

Choose roads with good lighting whenever possible. If there are none, a light head torch will come in handy: it is much more efficient than a phone, plus, your hands remain free.

Do not run on routes that you have not been on during daylight hours.

The best thing to do is to find a company – it’s safer, and, observing the agreement, it is more difficult to “merge,” which means that you are less likely to miss a workout.

Detailed recommendations: How to train in the dark

Bad: Forgetting hydration

Of course, you don’t really want to drink cold water every 4–5 kilometers in winter, but this does not mean that you need to forget about hydration for good. After all, the body sweats, which means it loses moisture.

And that is not all. In winter, the air is usually much drier than in summer. When you breathe in cold, dry air during exercise, it heats up and moisturizes as it travels through your respiratory system. This increases water loss and the need for fluid replenishment during and after exercise.

A moisture-wicking base layer that wicks moisture away from your skin is an advantage for feeling warm when you run but a disadvantage in hydration because you don’t feel sweaty after a run and therefore don’t feel the need to drink.

Better: Drink hot drinks after jogging

Replenish your water balance before you start jogging – 200-300 ml of water 1.5-2 hours before going outside. Immediately after returning from training, warm up with a warm drink: various herbal teas with honey, rose hips, warm milk, or cocoa are perfect.

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Pay attention to and monitor for symptoms of dehydration: thirst, unusual tiredness, dizziness, headache, dark urine, dry mouth, infrequent urination, or heart palpitations.

Bad: Exercise only on a treadmill

Sounds tempting, right? After all, you can train in shorts and a T-shirt, in warmth and comfort – you need to buy a gym membership and calmly wait for spring.

But it’s not so simple: running on the road and the treadmill is very different. Running on the treadmill is easier because the treadmill helps your feet move, which means it does some of the work for you. You can maintain a higher pace on the treadmill with less effort.

When running on the street, more muscles are involved, for example, when you need to run around a group of people, jump over a curb, or move on uneven asphalt.

Running only on a perfectly level surface will weaken your stabilizer muscles, leading to injury in the future when you return to asphalt training.

Research confirm that running outdoors gives more energy and is more effective when it comes to dealing with depression and anger.

Classes in the gym will not prepare you for running in real weather conditions – rain, heat, high humidity, and wind. Training on a treadmill will never teach you how to cope with such a situation.

For an example of what kind of weather you might encounter in a competition, see video from the Boston Marathon 2018 – there, the participants were met by a real Apocalypse.

Better: Use different options depending on the conditions

The option “only the street, only hardcore,” although it looks bold, is also not always good. One treadmill run is much better than an injury that knocks you out of action for weeks. An icy road can cause you to slip and fall or over-strain your muscles to maintain stability.

If the weather is bad outside – ice, heavy snow, heavy rain, or fog with limited visibility – it is still better to choose a path or stay at home. In other cases – especially since the winters are now very favorable for running – feel free to choose the street.

Bad: Running when you have a cold

Perseverance and heroism are good qualities. But even a small couch with a runny nose can ruin all the buzz from sports.

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Don’t expect to recover faster by continuing to exercise when you are sick or on the edge: the stress of running will only make it harder to recover, and the illness may even get worse.

After hard training, the immune system is especially vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. Plus, the body takes a lot longer to recover, especially if you continue to exercise with muscle aches.

A common practice among runners is the “cervical test”: if cold symptoms appear above the neck, it is probably safe to run. If symptoms appear below the level of the neck, it is best to skip the workout.

Adjusted for the covid19 epidemic and the current situation, we strongly recommend not jogging if you are not feeling well.

Better: Rest and Recuperate

When you are sick, the body needs rest and does not need additional stress. Sleeping, drinking plenty of fluids, being warm, and watching TV shows will definitely work better than exercising.

Relax, recover, and then go to conquer the tracks. Making up for lost time will be easier if you missed just a couple of days rather than treating complications for weeks.

Bad: Taking a break until spring

“I spent the summer and fall running, but now it’s too wet and cold to continue.”

Don’t expect a couple of months off to have a positive effect on your form: your endurance level will decrease, and the psychological effect of such regression can discourage any desire to start again.

Of course, choosing between a different kind of workout – whether it’s the gym, swimming, yoga, or any cross-training – is better than spending your evenings on the couch. But to progress in the running, you still need to practice running at least a couple of times a week (hello, captain, it’s obvious!).

Better: Seek additional motivation

The ability to find positive in everything is valuable, not only in the running. Pick a few skills that winter running provides for you personally: maybe you want to get ready for a spring run? Or to strengthen the immune system and increase cold resistance. Or maybe find friends with the same interests or overcome the winter blues.

Find your motivation and remember: the only bad workout is the one that didn’t exist.

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