Winter running is always a tricky one – you’ve worked so hard throughout the year to get where you are that the Idea of having to loose fitness and redo everything is unbearable. Summer Bodies are made in winter and over the following weeks I will be posting about the challenges of getting up and moving your ass even when its freezing and your bed is holding you captive!
It all started one morning when I went for a run at 4am here in Pretoria. It was about 10-13 degrees and there wasn’t really wind – well that’s if your standing still.
I wore long leggings and a standard JT Top with a long sleeve cotton top pulled over. Because I have Dreadlocks my scalp is very exposed, so I wore a buff on my head and just in case one around my neck. Then on my feet was my pretty ASICS socks and My Pretty in Pink FuzeXLytes.
As I started my run I felt the cold creeping in under my shirt, in at my neck and into my ears – freezing my head. I pulled the buff over my ears and the other on up over my mouth and nose. I grabbed a sleeve tight in each hand to prevent the wind from coming in, and I persisted forward.
As my body heated up I realized that as I run I go through stages.
First the initial,
“It’s cold, I should have stayed in bed…”
“This isn’t so bad, see you’re heating up!”
“Dammit… Now I’m sweating…”
Fourth and final
“What the?! Now I’m freezing!”
So by the time I got home, I was literally frozen – my head felt icy cold – I jumped in the shower. This had me thinking, it’s very annoying how fast my body cools down, and it’s not like I ran slower or anything. I kept my pace throughout the whole 30min, I realised that if I’m going to make it through this winter I’m gonna need some help!
I did some research and it all boils down to one thing – Sweat. One of the most important thing to remember when running in the winter is to dress in such a way as to not sweat too much. The more you sweat the more fluid there is for the wind to cool down.
Your body sweats when you heat up as a mechanism to help you cool down, but when it is cold outside you don’t necessarily need to cool down and having your body cool itself down can have very bad consequences.
When you run in summer, you can go with the bare minimum as long as you wear enough sunblock. But in winter you have to layer to help you in different situations. Also the weather can be unpredictable that you should rather not get caught in an unpleasant situation where you can put your health at risk.
I live in South-Africa so I’m sure our winters don’t come close to any winters in Europe, but let me tell you it can still get flippen cold here.
The most common thing you will hear when asking for advice on running during winter is to layer. Layering gives you the options of adding or subtracting items of clothing. It is recommended to wear a base layer that is breathable and then add a wind-resistant layer on the top that acts as a sort of shield or soft shell as protection against the elements. If it has a zip it can work even better to help you ventilate by pulling you zip slightly down when needed to let go of some heat.
Having you base layer consist of a cotton fabric rather than a polyester, and if it is polyester ensure that it has good moisture management. You want it to absorb the moisture when you perpetrate not sit underneath the surface of your shirt.
Having a jacket with a hood can also come in handy – it will protect the back of your neck and also help keep the chills out. Something to definitely take into consideration is that we lose the most heat from our heads, so wear a beanie or a mussie.
For us ladies this is usually a bit tricky, we have ponytails most of the time. A head band is then usually a good option. I prefer to cover my ears. Regardless whether I’m wearing earphones or not. I feel like if my ears are warm then I can keep going. Protect your ears with a buff or a larger head band. In the colder countries I think earmuffs are a must. If you can find a nice buff that is actually lined and somewhat wind resistant, then definitely invest in one. I know ASICS has a nice one, different colours so it’s for guys and girls. See my product recommendation in the next post.
With the winter months come longer nights and shorter days. This forces many runners to have to run before or after sunrise. If you don’t have access to a treadmill then this usually means you have to run your normal routes in the dark. This makes it vital to ensure that you are visible to all road users. Being invisible is not good when you’re running, so make sure you wear nice bright colours and some reflective items. My husband always says I look like a clown when I go running – But at least I am visible! I’ve also seen these really nice ankle bracelets (For Lack of a better word) that you get. They attach around your shoe and then they light up. I’m going to see if I can get some of them.
With the dark of late sunrises and early sunsets come the biggest issue of all for winter running – that is
It’s cold, and dark, and that can make it very challenging to stay motivated during the Winter. I suggest getting a running partner. It’s easier to motivate each other when you both want the same things, so get yourself a buddy. When you don’t have anybody relying on you it is very easy to simply decide to not go for a run. But if you’ve made a commitment then you can’t really cancel.
When you’re running in the winter you are really running to just maintain your fitness. Speed workouts are better left for summer and little clothing. It is pretty difficult to try and run you’re fastest when you are all padded up with clothing. You also run the risk of overheating and getting tempted to remove you top layers, this can expose you to the elements and you can catch a flue.
When you feel like you might be getting sick – just remember it is usually best to stop. You will make it worse by running. Running compromises the immune system, particularly in the first 20 hours after strenuous exercise. This means your body will be more vulnerable to the bacteria and viruses already making you feel sick, which increases the chances of your symptoms getting worse. Read more on the topic by clicking here