Andy Williams may have crooned, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” But winter brings new running challenges. The nights draw in sooner, the temperature drops and conditions change underfoot – all of which present hazards for runners.
When the weather outside is frightful, the idea of a run may seem less delightful. Yet, winter doesn’t have to dampen your spirits.
Rekindle your festive cheer with these winter running tips:
1. Be Seen, Not Hurt
The days are generally greyer and darkness falls sooner. So, staying visible is important to your safety. High-visibility garments will help others spot you sooner. However, for them to be effective, they need to match the conditions you’re running in.
Day-time: Luminous garments are great for dreary days. They absorb the ultraviolet rays of the sun and eject them in a visible frequency. That’s why they appear to glow. But because they respond to the sun’s rays, they aren’t effective at night.
Night-time: In the dark, wear something with reflective features. Do you recall those textured grey strips often found on sportswear? They typically contain tiny prisms or beads that scatter light back towards the source. So, they’ll help you be seen in car headlights, for instance.
So remember – luminous for the day, reflective for night.
2. Shine a Light
Even familiar routes can be trickier in the dark. If you can’t see where you’re going, you’re more likely to slip or trip – or collide with unseen obstacles or people. Be surefooted by carrying a torch.
If you prefer to keep your hands free, try wearing a head-torch. The idea may seem strange if you’re a newcomer. But rest assured, head-torches are common amongst trail runners and essential kit for night races.
3. Get a Grip
Mud, wet leaves, ice and snow – all of these can make conditions slippery underfoot. Save yourself the danger of taking a tumble by wearing shoes with more grip. As well as injury, you’ll avoid the embarrassment too!
Trail shoes are ideal if you’re going off-road. For paved areas, swap your race flats for something with a little more tread. Also, in slippery conditions, approach tight corners with care – I learnt that the hard way.
4. Wrap Up
In cold conditions, covering up will keep you warm. But remember, you’ll heat up once you get going – so, try to get the balance right. For a small dip in temperature, a simple switch from t-shirt to long-sleeves or from shorts to leggings/joggers may be enough.
If the chill really does set in, you may want to add some extra layers. Tight-fitting base layers are a great way of holding heat close to your body. For both sexes, running tights are a common choice. If you feel self-conscious, you may be grateful for the cover of darkness. But if it makes you more comfortable, you can always wear your shorts over the top.
5. Keep in Contact
The season does present hazards, and you need to be able to get help if you need it. Wet and icy ground increases your chances of slipping. Plus, you’re more likely to collide with unseen obstacles in the dark. As well as adverse conditions, crime is another factor to be alert to – sadly, you don’t know who may be lurking in the dark. Consider carrying your phone in case you need to call for help. Also, always let someone know where you’re going.
6. Make Merry
For all its challenges, winter also brings plenty of festivities. You can make your running part of them. Many local parkruns put on an extra Boxing Day run. Plus, there are several fancy-dress runs in the lead-up to Christmas – like Liverpool’s Santa Dash, which broke a world-record for the largest number of runners dressed as Santa!
7. Set a Resolution
The festive season is always a time of indulgence. So, don’t be too hard on yourself if your training takes a backseat. You can always set a resolution for the year ahead. Maybe there’s a race you’ve always wanted to enter? A new distance you’d like to tackle? Or perhaps you’re chasing a better time. Enjoy yourself during the festivities, then kick-off the New Year with a new goal.
So, let’s raise a toast to the past year of running. And three cheers for the one ahead!
Does the idea of a winter run still leave you cold? Try these seven motivation hacks.