Seven Tips for Running in Winter

After we ran our summer runnin’ tip sheet last week, a few of our Northern Hemisphere readers asked what we thought of running in the Winter. Afterall, November up there is just damn miserable, especially if you’re in the UK – I jest.. it’s just a little cold, compared to Australia right now, which has bush fires ranging in full effect and temperatures raging in the 40’s.

So to make sure we’re covering all spectrums of the Hemispheres, we dug through our archives as I was sure we’d done an article on winter running somewhere. Low and behold we had, so here’s a rerun of that article, albeit with some updates to make sure you guys and girls freezing in the UK and parts of the US, or wherever you are in the world, have something to keep you going through those dark winter months – all while we run around in soaring 30+ degree weather in our little running shorts 🙂

it does snow in Australia (Photo Credit - Skippy)
It does snow in Australia (Photo Credit – Skippy)

1.) Stay Motivated

Often it can be very easy to ignore the cold outside and favour the warmth of your doona (Aussie for ‘blanket’) instead – we even have a term for it here in the Ultra168 running slang directory – “DOONA HEAVEN’ (can be paired with ‘Facebook Runner’) – The term used for a person whom at ease can perform the simple motion of rolling over from one’s bed and hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock. One can be described as being in ‘Doona Heaven’ if one fails to show for an early morning run where temps are hitting crazy lows of 6 or maybe 7 degrees C.

It may look pretty, but the bed is not your friend in the winter - avoid it's evil temptation!
It may look pretty, but the bed is not your friend in the winter – avoid its evil temptation!

Despite your intrepid fears of freezing to death, it really isn’t that bad, so first up make a date. That is, arrange to meet someone for your run. If you commit to meeting someone, then you’re going to feel really bad if you don’t turn up – I think they call it accountability. Because once you’re out there, it only take five or ten minutes to warm-up and by the end of the session you’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about.

2.) Proper Gear

Here in Australia we’re so used to simply donning a pair of shorts and some shoes for summer running that our brains almost miss-computes the requirements for winter running. It goes without saying but a really good top is essential here. Check out our merino wool top reviews just recently for some low down on what to buy. For those that really feel the cold, a pair of leggings is normally par de course. For those men wishing to go ‘Euro style’ with the 3/4 length pants, prepare for a barrage of comments that could range from outright dismay, through to which ladies race you’ll be entering next. If you’re female, then 3/4 length pants are perfectly acceptable and come as standard. But we’re all about equality here at Ultra168, so if you’re male and you chose to wear 3/4 length pants – then that’s OK with us…

3.) Be Seen

This is actually a serious point for a moment. Wear reflective, fluorescent gear, and don’t be shy about lighting yourself up like a fairground, particularly if you spend a lot of time out on the roads at night. I know of runners that use a headlamp or carry a flashlight, not so much so that they can see where they’re going, but more so that people and vehicles can see them. Get your fluro on, get your lights on and be seen. There are a lot of people who for some inexplicable reason have been granted a license to drive a car, even though their IQ dawdles in the lower echelons of single figure digits. My golden rule when either running (or indeed driving) is ‘Anticipate stupidity’.

It's OK for a man to wear 3/4 length running tights... in Europe.
It’s OK for a man to wear 3/4 length running tights… in Europe.

4.) Weather – Deal with it!

Yes it’s cold and yes it might rain. Instead of thinking how awful the weather is and talking yourself out of a training session, use it as an opportunity to experience something different. Hailing from the UK, running in rain is a pretty commonplace experience for me. Coming to Australia and running in slightly warmer rain was quite the novelty. Indeed, any sort of cooling down aid in Australia is fun when the temperatures hit ridiculous heights. Therefore when it rains now, I take every opportunity I can to get out there. Just make sure you have plenty of anti-chaffing cream and apply it liberally. Don’t resort to using sandwich bags for places they shouldn’t be used – as I found out once in a race.

5.) Watch the speed

In winter, the colder temps bring about colder bodies in that it takes perhaps a little while longer to warm those muscles up – particularly if you’re intent on carrying on with some speed work during the colder months. If that’s the case, spend a bit more time than usual on your warm-ups, maybe don a few more layers as you trot around the oval thinking of all the excuses you can to not begin the sick-inducing session you’re about to unleash yourself upon. Failing that, just do it… you could even wear 3/4 length pants to help you through the session – good for the calves we hear!

6.) Stay Hydrated

It may be cold and dry outside, and you might think that your fluid consumption should decrease in the winter months but the fact is that you’re sweating almost as much fluid in the winter as you do in the summer. Sure you might be able to go slightly longer than on a boiling hot day in the middle of summer, but it’s also important to hydrate well after your run too, no matter what the temperature. I experienced this just yesterday in some really high winds. Despite it not being overly hot, the wind made me feel extremely dehydrated on what was a fairly innocuous 20km run.

7.) Move abroad

If you’re struggling with all of the above and the thought of stepping outside during the cold winter months fills you with dread, we hear Singapore is a good all-year round option for those who enjoy their weather ‘close’.

We hope you enjoyed our somewhat humourous tips for winter running. We hope we didn’t offend too many people – 3/4 length tights are OK if you’re a man*.

*Caveat – you must be french and live in the mountains.



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Dan on Twitter
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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