There’s a strange satisfaction to be had when running in conditions that keep most people at home – be it early morning, or in the rain or cold.
“In the first five minutes of a run, when it’s early and raining hard, I feel quite proud of myself," says Tom, Summit Club member. "If I'm out in this, the rest of the run will be easy."
Based in London, Tom has completed an Iron Man, Half Iron Man and several Olympic-length triathlons. He says having a goal you can train for and gear you can trust are essential for staying motivated and maintaining your winter running regime.
Here are 10 winter running tips to keep you motivated and safe.
1. Organise to run with a buddy. Waking up early on dank and dark wintery mornings may make you want to roll over and hit the snooze button. But if you’ve already organised to go running with a friend – and they’ve made the effort to get out of bed – you won’t want to let them down (unless you’re a really bad friend). Having a running buddy, especially in the colder months, is a great way to keep you motivated, and safe too.
2. Get organised the night before. Get your gear out and ready to go the night before, so waking up and getting out the door is easy and quick.
3. Vary your route. The whole point of running outside instead of on a treadmill is that you get to be outside, in the fresh, crisp air, stimulated by new sights and smells. Mix up your running route every so often to keep it interesting.
4. Set goals. Sign up for a short, local race like a 5K run. Having a goal to work towards will keep you motivated and push you along.
5. Be seen. It’s likely you’ll be running in the dark, so it’s essential you're visible to car drivers, cyclists and other runners. Wear clothes that are reflective or bright, fluoro colours to increase your visibility – and your safety.
6. Wear technical clothing. In really cold conditions, it’s vital you run in high-performing running clothes to keep you warm and protect you against hypothermia. Layering is the key to moderating your body temperature, as you can add and remove layers when you need to, and the layers trap warm air. Your base layer needs to be moisture-wicking, because sweaty skin and wet clothes can lead to hypothermia. Wool is a good choice as it’s naturally odor-resistant and provides superior warmth. Your middle layer should be fleece to insulate you against the cold, and your outer layer should be lightweight, windproof, water-resistant and breathable for all-round protection.
**7. Warm up first. **You should always warm up your muscles before exercise, but this is especially important in winter when it can take your body a little longer to get going. Run up and down the stairs, skip or do some star jumps or push-ups…anything to get the flood flowing and the body warmed up.
8. Hydrate. Although we don't normally associate dehydration with winter, it’s just as important to drink fluids in winter as in summer – especially when you're working out.
9. Start into the wind. Some runners prefer to start their winter run facing into the wind rather than at the end, when they're sweaty and could get chilled.
10. Carry your mobile and enough money for cab fare. It's always good to be prepared, just in case.