Europeans love to run. Whether it’s along the Seine in Paris, around the Alster in Hamburg, the backroads of the English countryside, or the Parc du Bruxelles, nature always offers up somewhere nice for a jog. Although despite the lengthy cool weather period, often from October to March (and sometimes into April), there are still many brave souls embrace cold-weather running. So, how do you take care of your body during outdoor training in the winter months?
You know the basics – gloves on your hands, headband or beanie on your head, and a wind-proof jacket. You will also want to consider layering 2-3 high-quality, non-bulky thermal items of clothing (merino wool is best) to regulate your body temperature and give you options to remove layers as you run. Hot tip: warm your clothes on the radiator before putting them on to get off to a warmer start! Compression socks can be helpful for circulation in your legs, and running arm sleeves will do similar good for your top half.
It can be hard to motivate yourself in the winter months, so consider organizing more runs with a friend or a running group. It’s bound to get you out of the house and hitting the pavement when you are accountable to somebody else who has similar winter training goals. See if there’s a winter running club in your town or city, or start one with friends and colleagues.
Run lit up like a Christmas tree
When it’s dark, and especially when foggy, you should ensure you can be seen by cars and cyclists. Fluoro clothes or reflective stripes on the side of running tights are a good start, but go a step further and clip a small light to your jacket and wear reflective ankle or wristbands, to ensure you’re visible even in the worst weather.
Warm up before you go out
It might be a few stretches on the living room floor, or running up and down a few flights of stairs in your building, but warming up is especially important during winter. When you return home from your run, don’t skip the cool down and stretch – it’s important your muscles don’t seize up from a dramatic shift in temperature.
If you get wet or feel like your extremities simply are not warming up as you run, seek shelter. While your training goals are important, ensuring you don’t get hypothermia or frostbite should be your key concern as you run. Likewise, take care of your muscles and joints by massaging them, stretching them out and applying a cream to warm and soothe them post-run. Don’t forget to stay well hydrated and wear sunscreen on your face when running! Just because it is cold and grey doesn’t mean your body can subsist without H2O and protection against UV rays.
Indoors is ok, too
When it’s simply too cold to bear, train inside where it’s warm and cosy. Make friends with the treadmill and have some backup indoor exercises planned. Try mixing it up with some bodyweight exercises, or a fitness class that will get your blood pumping without needing to layer up your outdoor running gear.