As arctic winds sweep the UK, it’s not surprising that running has lost a lot of its appeal. You’re not alone if the dark evenings and snowy air have triggered a soul-deep dislike for all manner of “running”.
But stick with it. A Northern Arizona University study discovered that the big freeze can increase your speed by 29%, and that’s just one of the benefits of running in the cold.
That said, these pesky conditions require more thought than running through fields on hazy days.
To safeguard you against the most common chilly jogging errors we asked Olympic Heptathlete Jess Ennis Hill and Steve Vernon, former GB International athlete and Coach for Team New Balance for their best advice.
They know what they’re talking about.
RUNNING MISTAKES TO AVOID IN WINTER:
1. NOT PUTTING YOUR SAFETY FIRST
For most of us, the daily grind means that you have to run in the dark. It might sound simple but hi-vis clothing and a running buddy will also keep you safer and give you extra incentive.
2. RELYING ON FAT LOSS AS MOTIVATION
Having a running buddy or group is a really good way to keep the motivation up in winter. It’s also a clever way to catch up with friends when you’re avoiding the pub.
Find a local running group near you if you don’t have a friend that runs. Most have qualified leaders at each of the groups to keep it safe, enjoyable and informative. Don’t worry, they cater for all abilities.
If you’re a fan of a solo session, try Jess Ennis Hill’s technique and find something to keep you going that isn’t that extra pound – ‘I think it has to be having a hot shower and warm cup of tea and feeling that sense of real satisfaction that you have done the hard work, despite the cold.’
3. EXPECTING TO BEAT YOU PB
You shouldn’t compare your times or distances too closely with what you’re capable of in the milder months.
‘If it’s windy, raining, icy etc. then your times are bound to be a bit slower but the winter is a great time to work on weaknesses and build strength in other ways,’ explains Steve.
4. STICKING TO EXTREME DISTANCES
If you’re used to long distances and just can’t embrace spending two hours being pounded by the elements, it may be time to mix up your routine.
If you are short for time or have limited places to run why not find a hill near your house that you can run up for 30-60 seconds.
You can walk or jog back down as a recovery and do as many of these as you wish based on fitness and ability. 4 – 8 would be a good starting point but make sure to do a jog warm up and down.
Hills are great for strength and speed, so although you might not be able to get the distance in you can still work hard.
5. WEARING THE WRONG KIT
If there’s ever a time when the right kit matters, it’s in colder temperatures. During the summer, sweat wicking is always appreciated but in winter it’s essential.
Damp clothing becomes cold very quickly and you can’t be expected to go out in just shorts and a vest in the snow.
Jess knows this better than anyone; ‘You have to make sure you have the right clothing and footwear – use layers so you can adjust your temperature as you warm up from training.
‘I use adidas Climaheat because it’s lightweight and works to keep my body as warm as possible. The right gear makes a massive difference.’
Read: 10 Essential Items Of Winter Running Gear
6. NOT WARMING UP (OR DOWN)
It can be quite a shock to the system to go straight into a run from being still in your warm house.
Steve suggests doing the washing up in your kit.
‘If it is freezing outside then make sure you are wearing enough clothing to keep you warm. A warm up is often a good idea but not always practical at home; if you get up and do a few household chores beforehand in your full running kit you are bound to be warm by the time you leave the house.’
There’s no reason you should get injured more easily in winter, provided you still do warm up and down properly. The temptation can be to get in after a run and curl up on the sofa…
7. FORGETTING THE IMPORTANCE OF HYDRATION
Stay hydrated. Just because it’s cold it doesn’t mean you aren’t losing as much fluids. You will be sweating under all that kit.
Dehydration is another key cause of injury and if not that, you’re more likely to get some killer DOMS over the following few days.
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