How to warm up your winter running routine
Posted on January 29 2020
Running in cold weather is a challenge. As the air chills, and the darkness takes over your morning and evening runs, it can be difficult to make that transition to winter training. If you’re not used to running in colder temperatures, it can be more than tempting to stay snuggled up in bed. However, there are ways to work through the weather and maintain your workouts no matter the temp outside. Here are some simple ways to warm up your running routine when the chilly conditions hit.
Amp up your warm up
The temperature outside can impact your performance, but that’s not all to consider. It’s more about how your body temperature reacts to its environment. You can’t just head out into the cold and expect your body to work the same as it does in summertime. If you want to get through winter without any injuries, a serious warm up is your new best friend. After all, the power of the warm up, especially in the winter, lies in the ‘warm’ part. The key factor is getting your core temperature elevated, without getting sweaty, as the moisture will cool you rapidly as soon as you step outside.
A good warm-up will increase your muscle temperature, which loosens your muscles for injury-preventing flexibility and mobility. Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury and just don’t perform as well. So, this means that warming up inside, before you head out, is the wake-up call for your muscles that prepares your body for the conditions when you step out the door. You’ll want to make your winter warm up more thorough than your summer one. Your best bet is to start off with some dynamic stretches. These help limit the resistance between your active and non-active muscles, warming you up gently and reducing your chances of any strain.
Dress for success
When dressing to run in the cold, remember than once you get moving, your body will heat up fast. If you’re too bundled up in heavy clothing, you could easily overheat. So, the trick is to wear several thin layers instead. Now might be the time to invest in some new running gear! Start with a base layer that ‘wicks’ or carries sweat away from your body. And make sure your outer layer is one you can unzip to vent. This means you can vary the air flow near your body in changing conditions. The more you run in winter, the more you’ll learn your own preferences. There’s plenty of amazing winter gear out there that means you don’t have to be afraid of getting out in the cold.
Treat those feet
Choosing the right gear for your body is key when it’s cold, but what about your feet? If you’re not used to running in wintertime, you might need to invest in a different pair of shoes to train in. As temperatures get colder, the shock absorption of shoes decreases, which can result in a higher injury risk. This is particularly true if you spend more time running on roads in winter, as the impact forces are much greater on your joints and muscles. If this is something you’re worried about, as well as investing in a good pair of trainers, you should think about topping up with Glucosamine to keep your bones and joints in supple condition.
Another feature to look out for when choosing winter running footwear is a reliable outer sole with some grip. If you’re slogging through whatever weather the winter skies have on offer, soles with pronounced lugs will guard against slipping and sliding. This is particularly important if you’re heading off-road.
Since there’s basically no chance your feet will get any warmer once you set off, you could try heating your socks (as well as any other clothing layers) on the radiator before putting them on, or blasting your shoes with a blow dryer at a distance. Starting off with toasty toes will help protect your extremities throughout your workout. There’s nothing worse than realising you can’t feel your toes halfway through a run!
Warm up mentally
Sometimes the toughest part isn’t the cold, but the challenge of staying focused, particularly if you don’t have anything to train for. If you’re struggling with motivation, consider planning a race for when the weather improves. This way, you’ll have an end goal in sight to get you through your training. Rather than concentrating on the physical, wintertime can be a great time to focus on the mental aspects of running, pushing yourself to achieve your goals. Finishing a run even when the weather is miserable will give you a sense of real achievement, and the confidence to get out there next time.
What to remember
There are ways to weather the winter conditions, even if you’re not used to it. Warming up your body (and mind) is key to keeping going through the winter and preventing any weather-induced injuries. With the right preparation and mindset, you can keep training as the seasons change, and still be in shape when spring swings back round.