During the cold dark winter months we need to take extra precautions when running outside…both for our safety and our health. Here are Karen and Aileen’s winter running tips keeping you safe and warm. All year round runners should think about personal safety, in the winter some of those risks are heightened due to darkness and cold, icy weather. It’s tempting to go into hibernation and revitalise our running plans in the springtime, however for most runners, we want to maintain fitness and form so adding in some practices from our winter running tips to keep you safe and warm will be really supportive.
Here are some ideas to consider……..
Personal Safety When Running
- Invest in a high viz or reflective gilet/jacket. Remember, if you run with your dog, ensure he/she is visible to other pedestrians/cyclists too.
- Wear a head torch – even in well-lit areas
- Take your phone with you – just incase you need to call family or a friend
- Wear reflective wrist/ankle bands – a cheaper alternative to a gilet or jacket
- Ensure you have shoes with good grip – trail shoes may suffice
- Always run in well lit areas if running in the dark – don’t take risks!
- Take some money – just in case you need a taxi….or just a warm drink once you have finished running!
- Have an ICE in case of emergency contact number available – just in case……..!!
Optimal Body Temperature
Dressing for the weather will not only keep you warm and dry but also may help prevent colds and injury.
Wear layers – to keep warm. You can always take them off and tie them round your waist
Invest in a rain and windproof jacket
Button up for winter running!!
Wear a hat (or ear muffs/ headband) and gloves – mitts are excellent and warmer than gloves some. Buy thermal gloves….consider mitts – skin-on-skin will help increase heat
Gore-tex trail shoes for those off road runs to keep your feet dry
Keeping to your training plan may be challenging in the cold, dark months so here are a few tips to keep you motivated.
Our Top 7 Winter Running Motivational Mojo Tips
- Run with a buddy – motivate each other
- Run with your dog – great company
- Have a warm drink before venturing out – your cold perception will be reducer
- Consider warm food if it is a long run and you’re able to have a break – again your perception of cold is reduced
- Layer up – wear layers then remove and wrap around your waist if necessary
- Wear trail shoes – they are waterproof so no cold feet!!
- Have your next race TOP OF MIND – that will focus you on why you’re doing this!
We often attend to the external factors of the weather during winter months, however there are ways to optimise your winter nutrition and hydration too.
What do you need to think about to stay healthy during the winter running season?
How to protect against winter infections? How to protect against injury? How to maintain running performance? How to stay warm? How to adjust your energy intake to your activity levels?
Eating a rainbow all year round but especially in the winter months will help to ensure you are having a wide range of phytonutrients supporting both your immune and digestive systems and helping prevent winter infections. Plan to eat 1/2 plate of non root vegetables or salads at every meal (7-9 portions per day).
Here are a few seasonal fruits and vegetables to support your focus on performance in winter
Pumpkin/butternut squash – excellent carbohydrate source as an alternative to grains/potatoes
Cranberries – contain phytonutrients known to fight against infection
Pears – contain a phytonutrient (epicatechin) involved in constriction and relaxation of arteries
Beetroot – contains nitrates (converted to Nitric Oxide in the body) and are known to increase blood flow and and for it’s ergogenic effects
Winter Hydration For Runners
When the weather is cold we often don’t feel thirsty and can forget to pay attention to hydration – it’s key to beware of sweat loss and consider using electrolyte supplements. If chilled water isn’t appealing to you then try some herbal teas or hot water with lemon and ginger throughout the day to ensure you are euhydrated.
Plan to Keep Your Energy High
The winter months can also be a time when we feel an energy low as we have fewer daylight hours and possibly fewer holidays too. Often people talk about wanting to eat more and have comfort foods, which is a natural reaction if you’re feeling the cold. As a runner it’s important to recognise that your run training plan may adjust/decrease over the winter so you should make necessary amendments to your food plan i.e. eat in line with your mileage/endurance level.
- Eat at regular intervals to promote an even blood sugar balance and avoid energy dips
- Plan your pre, during and post run fuelling
- Choose an Athlete Plate Balance for your endurance level
- Avoid comfort eating
- Keep hydrated
- Minimise stimulants e.g. coffee, alcohol, sweets
What to eat? Here are a few winter warming Pre/Post Run Food Ideas
Porridge or Overnight Oats warmed up for a hearty breakfast.
Homemade Soups full of colourful winter vegetables and Slow Cooked One Pot Meals (waiting for you on return from a run)
Warming Drinks e.g. herbal teas, hot water, non dairy milk based
Heartier Warm Salads – add some roasted vegetables, steamed broccoli and crunchy cabbages and shredded root vegetables
REMEMBER to put into place our Winter Running Tips keeping you safe and warm.
NB If weather conditions are just too extreme to run outside you could consider a swim, spinning, the treadmill or some indoor strength training instead.
DON’T LET NUTRITION BE YOUR LIMITING FACTOR
Being a healthy runner leads to enhanced endurance, increased energy, and efficient recovery. We’d love to share more tips, resources and help over in our free face book group – we hope to see you there.
Join Aileen and Karen in our FREE Face Book Group