It’s cold, it’s miserable, it’s wet and it’s dark. Not exactly a huge draw from the sofa to go for a run is it? But, we know exercise is good for us, we know summer bodies are made in the winter and we know it always feels good when we’ve done it. So, how can we keep going through the winter? How do we stay motivated and stay safe?
Here are my top tips. 1. Find a run buddy or running group
If you can find someone who can run at a relatively close pace to you, or a group you feel comfortable with, then as well as being sociable it tends to push you in the right direction on the days you’re thinking “I’ll leave it tonight” or “it looks a bit too cold out there!” Equally well you can do the same for your run buddies and encourage them along!
2. Get the right gear
If you’re either freezing all the way round your run or boiling hot two minutes in, running can feel very uncomfortable. Get to know your body type. If you get cold fingers and toes then always wear good gloves and socks (like twin skins). If you get hot then consider thin layers or clothes with ventilation zips. If there is a strong wind then get long but thin layers to cover the skin surface which is most affected by the wind. You know you and if you feel comfortable you’ll not only enjoy the run more but you’ll remember it more fondly next time you need a push to go out.
3. Mind your chest
Breathing in the cold air can be very tough. When your insides warm up and the air is cold it can make you feel like your lungs are on fire. If it’s so cold that you can see your breath then do some really deep breathing as part of your warm up, or walk for a bit first to let your chest adapt. If you’re asthmatic ensure you use your inhaler before you run and monitor your breathing. You may need to start slightly slower to begin with.
4. Set a winter goal
It might be twelve thousand steps a day. It might be to run three times a week. It might be to increase each run by 0.5km through February and March. Try to break it down rather than thinking of running every week till your holiday in August. Why not book a race? Whether its a 5km, 10km, half marathon it doesn’t matter, choose something to suit you, to aim for, something to keep you on track. Share it with your run club, run buddy or put it on social media and go for it!
5. Do an extra long warm up
It’s cold. You are cold, and your muscles are cold. And don’t you sometimes feel like your brain is cold too and not quite into it? Try a few extra dynamic stretches before you run in the cold and get your mind and body really geed up and good to go.
6. Winter playlist
A good run playlist is always an essential but how about some good winter tunes to push you on. What’s your favourite run track? Do you go dance, rock or prefer a podcast? Share it with us!
7. Make running part of your routine
This is always a good tip but it’s more important in winter. It gets dark earlier and if you make that ever fateful mistake of sitting on the sofa and then the night draws in, getting yourself changed and back out can be a lot harder. Why not run before work or on your lunch break? However you do it, fit it in as part of your routine so you take away the option of backing out as much as possible!
It’s always worth it, so lace up and get out there and let me know how you get on!