Blog

Tips for Running in Winter- Jasper Blake

“Crap it’s cold”

We are a tough breed up here in Canada!  We spend almost half the year dealing with the wrath of winter.  Icy roads, fierce winds and abominable snowmen are a few of the challenges we face.

Running poses an interesting dilemma; stay inside or venture out.  This decision is quite obvious with the other two sports.  Swim in a heated indoor pool, not a lake.  Bike on a turbo-trainer or a set of rollers and get your head around some hours pedaling hard and not actually going anywhere.  When it comes to running you can spend time on the treadmill, but after having gone nowhere on your bike it is great to get a change of scenery.
So, as my dear mom would say, out the door you go young lad and jolly well enjoy the day that is provided for you.  Good advice, but keep these simple guidelines in mind.
DO:
Dress for the weather conditions.  You need to keep your muscles warm – particularly if you are on the flip side of being a kid which is probably most of you.  Consider wearing tights under track pants or the combination of short tights and compression socks to keep warm.
DO:
Warm up properly.  In the winter make sure that you warm up and cool down more slowly than in the summer.  Cold muscles equal tight muscles and tight muscles can lead to minor pulls or tears.  Ease into runs, especially harder workouts.
DO NOT:
Run if it drops below minus twenty; consider the treadmill or an indoor running track.  Winter can stress your immune system.  Suddenly exposing your lungs to forced inhalations of crystallized, frosty air is like throwing gas onto a tire fire.
DO:
Wear three socks if you are of the male variety.  I am quite serious about this, there is nothing worse than running 30 minutes with a tail wind, getting all warm and sweaty only to turn around and face the wrath of the winter gods on your nether regions.  Many a time have I been caught out on runs where a headwind greeted me on the way back and a third sock was all I needed to maintain sanity.
DO:
Get inside immediately after runs so you don’t get chilled.  If it is particularly cold, consider starting and finishing your runs inside.  If you are running with a group that stretches or does some core exercises after the run, find a gymnasium or a living room so you don’t get chilled.
DO:
Remember to keep drinking.  Cold weather can be deceiving.  It may seem as if you’re not losing fluids during a workout but trust me, you are.  Remember to stay hydrated; it’s just as important in the winter as it is in the summer.
DO:
Invest in proper footwear.  Obviously stick to the shoes that are best for your foot and running gait but look into something with additional tread or grip particularly for snowy and icy roads.  I often run in a cross country shoe through the winter months as it offers more traction than a normal shoe.
DO NOT:
Run on busy roads.  Road shoulders become smaller in the winter and visibility can be extremely bad at times.  Pick routes that have cleared sidewalks so you can avoid the road all together.  Remember that roads are icy and cars can be less predictable.  If you have to run on a busy shoulder I strongly recommend running towards oncoming traffic so you can pay attention to what the cars are doing and do a navy-seal dive into the snow bank if required.
DO:
Invest in some reflective running gear.  Winter days are short and darkness comes on quickly.  If you want to be safe, be seen.
DO:
Wear layers.  Yes, you’ve heard this before but tail winds can feel warm and headwinds can feel very cold especially when you start sweating.  Layers allow you to adjust your clothing choices if need be.
DO:
Experiment with alternative forms of winter activities.  Winter is one of the best aspects of Canada if you take advantage of it.  There are dozens of aerobic sports that take place in the winter months and many will translate fitness very well to running and biking.  Skate skiing is said to compliment cycling very well.  Cross country skiing (the classic version), and snowshoeing can compliment running.  Both of these activities present the opportunity to get out into the woods.  Keep in mind that where aerobic fitness is concerned, your heart and lungs don’t know the difference between activities so the cross over between sports can be very effective.  Not to mention the mental break from the other sports.  It is also another chance for you spandex lovers to wear some tight clothing in the off season.