Our MyFit Blog aims to engage and inform so that we can collectively empower everyday athletes to better their best with every run.
Winter Running Tips
There is nothing more refreshing than heading out on a sunny, brisk Spring morning and smashing out your running goals for the day. The sun is warm, the air is fresh, and your body pumps like the well-oiled running machine that it is. Weather is such an important factor in our attitudes toward running, and sometimes our motivation and preparation can be stunted if we are not fully ready for some unexpected changes. On the flip side, we also must endure some extra crispy Winter mornings which for some people are a game breaker – the following tips are going to change your mind on that front for the better, so you can enjoy your daily trek whether it be rain, hail or shine!
During Winter, our muscles take a longer period of time to activate – this isn’t just physical, but also a mental game as the last thing we want to do is stagger through the first 10 minutes of our run feeling like an icicle. A solid recommendation is to run through dynamic stretches pre-run to get your body prepared. Dynamic stretches are different to static stretches in that they include movement instead of holding the stretch for 15-20 seconds, allowing your blood to start flowing instead of keeping in the same place for too long.Top dynamic stretches:
- Side lunges
- Leg swings
- Butt kicks
- Seated hamstring stretch
- Standing quad stretches
- Calf raises
Reward yourself—how do I stay motivated?
It’s no secret that motivation is unwillingly stunted during the colder months, and the thought of heading outside when you are nice and cosy is not ideal at the best of times. However – there are ways we can keep on top of our motivation that help us to achieve our daily/weekly goals. A classic example of this is to keep yourself accountable and track your progress to ensure you are always ahead of your game. Exercise tracking apps are a great incentive when you are running regularly, as they positively reinforce and record your activity to give you a more holistic view of your performance. One of our favourites would be Strava which has multiple features to allow you to dig deeper into your kilometre splits, daily/weekly/monthly progress, provides rewards for PB’s and gives you a structure to work and stick with.
One of the hardest decisions to make before running is what to wear as you have no idea how you will be feeling mid-run (you’re going to want to lose the extra thermal underlayer, trust me). The feeling of getting too hot internally is one of the most uncomfortable features of winter running, so we must be prepared to be able to stay warm and give our body enough breathability to stay refreshed. Try using light layers to build warmth. Shop our apparel range including tights, tees and outerwear for women and tees, singlets and outerwear for men.
Wear the right shoes
Still running in those extremely thin, breathable shoes from the past Summer? Trainers like these can still be efficient in the cold, however it is always better to rug our little toes up for both warmth and protection in the colder months. Trainers that are waterproof (or thick enough to resist) are amazing during our cold ventures as they allow our feet to stay comfortable and dry – especially when we may endure a rainy day out! We have a range of trainers that are suited to these conditions, feel free to check them out here. Adding a pair of performance socks an insole will also help decrease the pressure and stress on your ankles. If you need help picking a pair, speak to our MyFit Virtual Technicians.
Breathing in the cold
Breathing whilst running tends to become a little harder as the cold rolls in as we do not get to enjoy the perks of the fresh spring air easily cycling through our lungs. Despite the often burning, uncomfortable sensation in your throat (when the temperature is getting low), this is not a sign for concern. If you allow yourself to breathe in regularly, your body can stabilise the cold air and warm it up for a more efficient intake. Remember to keep your breathing consistent and deep, especially during the first 1-2 kilometres of your run as your body begins to warm itself up.Breath control tips for running in cold weather:
- Stay hydrated
- Take deep, relaxed breaths and avoid panting
- Reduce the pace until you feel warmed up
Food and energy
What would you expect to be the most common food amongst runners (and athletes in general) that fuels us for long periods? You guessed it, pasta. Including pasta within your diet allows a plethora of slow-release energy which is perfect for the modern-day marathon runner. However, we can’t just continue to smash our goals with a diet solely relying on pasta – yes this gives us the energy we need, but we also need to focus on our recovery. Foods such as eggs, tofu, Greek yoghurt, broccoli, chicken and brussel sprouts (they aren’t as bad as you remember) are all high in protein which is key for restoring your broken-down muscles. In addition, tuna is a great option as it is low in fat and calories whilst providing a rich source of protein. For vegetarians, lentils are a great choice (easily whipped up in a curry or pasta) as they are high in fibre, magnesium, potassium, iron, and various other nutrients to delay the onset of soreness.
Hydration is key, even when it’s freezing outside
We often slack off on staying hydrated in the winter as our body’s seem to expel less sweat and we tend to lack the thirst we would receive as opposed to when running on a hot summer day – however our bodies aren’t always the best as regulating this, and we still need our fair share of H20. In order to stay sharp, we need to meet our daily hydration goals and plan ahead, especially when running. This can be as simple keeping a refillable bottle nearby throughout the day and setting hourly reminders for yourself to have a quick drink – you will feel much better once you sink into a steady routine and your body will thank you for it. If we are heading out on shorter periods, we may not need to hydrate mid-run but prepare beforehand. A good practice is to drink 500ml as soon as we get out of bed, this has several health benefits that aren’t just specifically related to hydration! If we are looking at more endurance-based events, it would be beneficial to incorporate a water bladder, light backpack which holds a water bottle or even a hydration gel.
Health benefits of running in the cold
Even though the temptation of staying or jumping into bed on a cold winter’s day may be tempting, there are numerous health benefits of running in the cold that could be giving you that much needed edge over your performance. For one, we experience less heat stress on the body when running in the cold, as our bodies are not depleted by an excess amount of sweat and fluids – we are naturally staying cool which is something we would only hope for at times! Once we achieve a steady pace and our heart rate has increased, our bodies aren’t working nearly as hard as they would be on a 30-degree day. One of the main health benefits of staying active in the winter months is our mental wellbeing – longer, darker days and increased time staying indoors can sometimes keep us down and out, however fighting against this comfort and getting out to break a sweat can in turn increase our overall positivity and release hormones which combat depression, anxiety, and poor moods. We can all agree that it’s hard to feel demotivated if we have just closed out a daily run instead of the latter!