It must be said, running in cold weather can be awesome! It's true, the days are shorter, the temperature is colder and there might be snow or ice on the roads. But if you are careful enough – and follow these winter running tips – you can not only be ready for your next running race but also enjoy winter running sessions too. The best base layers are optional (although recommended).
To learn the ways of cold weather running training, we asked Martin Yelling, running coach and Garmin ambassador, to shine a light on this topic: "Winter running offers a new and different way to approach your running. You’ll be surprised with the benefits and what you can gain from lacing up your shoes and keeping on going."
Are you ready? Here are Martin's best tips on running in the cold.
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Just do it!
It's easy to overthink the simple things like the question 'should I go for a run'. Instead of asking whether or not you should run, ask when should you go. Don't give yourself the option of not doing it. Better still, whenever running pops into your mind, put your running shoes on and run. "You’ll almost always feel better after doing it", Martin says, "remember that winter running gives you an incredible sense of achievement, satisfaction and contentment. You get back glowing, happy, and warm with a proud sense of accomplishment."
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Be sunny on the inside
Running has many benefits, from improving cardiovascular health to boosting metabolism. It can also reduce symptoms of depression and improve mental health, so if you are a regular runner, you will have a more positive outlook on life. "Running releases endorphins that actually make you feel more energised and happier", Martin adds.
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Get some buddies
It is said that losing weight is easier and more longer lasting when done with partners. So it is no surprise that it is also easier to get off the sofa and start running when you get others to join you in your running efforts. "Taking into account and abiding by any guidelines or restrictions, knowing that someone else is waiting for you or you are meeting friends at a set time in a set place is a great way of giving you a get up and go attitude", Martin adds.
Run in the daylight
"Think about and plan your opportunity to run and where possible slot it in during the day", Martin recommends, "Vitamin D from sunlight is really important for winter health and being outside in fresh air during the day gives you a sizable boost."
Mix up your training
If you’re prone to doing the same thing week in week out with your running, then change things up in the winter to get more motivated. Martin doesn't shy away pushing his routine to its limits. "Try experimenting with the pace of your training, explore using your heart rate to monitor the intensity of your run, set yourself a time, distance or pace targets and search out new places to explore and go running", he says.
"You can also maximise your variety through the Garmin Coach. The feature provides users with personalised training plans, with workouts syncing to your compatible Garmin watch and adjusting based on your performance in the plan", he concludes.
Get the right gear
"Don’t hide yourself away from the winter weather, instead be prepared for it. The most important considerations for winter gear selection are warmth and functionality", Martin recommends, "Layering up with moisture wicking base layers, protecting your legs with light but flexible running tights that allow a full range of movement and slipping on a lightweight, breathable running specific jacket or gilet keeps the warmth in and the rain out."
Don’t forget your head and hands either. A cap in the rain and a thermal hat and running gloves in the cold keep your head and digits toasty and dry. It’s important to stay safe when running in the winter and dark too. "A high viz vest and clothing with specialist reflective piping keeps you safe and seen", Martin says.
Listen to your body
Despite all the fun winter running can be, if you are not careful, you can end up being too much pressure on your body. Running in the cold can be a stressor and keeping an eye on stress levels is recommended. Luckily, fitness wearables nowadays have functions that measure stress.
For quite obvious reasons, Martin prefers Garmin devices: "Garmin devices have a built-in stress monitor and mindfulness breathing feature to make sure you’re exercising in the right frame of mind. Your running should help you feel more energised, healthy and ready to tackle winter – not grind you down and wear out."
Some Fitbit models, such as the Fitbit Sense, can also measure stress but are probably a bit less capable in giving you running advice than a Garmin Forerunner.