Suit up in this cosy garb and even the worst weather won’t worry you.
However much we like to moan about the weather, the UK is a pretty great place to be a runner. The summers are rarely so hot as to make running a dehydration-risking misery and the winter cold tends to fall into the “make sure you wear lip balm” category, rather than “wear gloves or lose a finger”.
That said, the British winter is typically wet, chilly and dark, none of which make it into any runner’s top ten descriptions of their favourite workout. Fortunately, you can combat all three of those conditions easily with the right winter running plan and gear. We’ve got all the gear you need to consider below, but before that we have seven quick tips from Tom Craggs (runningwithus.com), official running coach of the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run and OOFOS ambassador, to help keep you motivated through a winter of running.
Winter Running Tips
1. Ring-Fence Your Training Time
The festive period can be incredibly busy and the first thing many people strike off their schedule is exercise. Avoid this pitfall by planning your weekly training to help you stick to it. Given how hectic Christmas can be you’ll probably be glad of the time to yourself anyway.
“Aim to get your sessions in the bank as early in the morning as you can, because life will throw more and more run-busting challenges at you throughout the day,” says Craggs.
2. Change Your Scenery
Running the same bit of Tarmac over and over again is just another reason to skip a run when it’s cold out, so mix it up.
“Change up your usual running routes, get off-road and include some hills to challenge your body differently,” says Craggs. “Your body loves routine and plateaus easily. Shake things up and keep your muscles, and your brain, guessing.”
3. Fuel Your Fitness
It’s expected that people will overindulge during the Christmas period, but it’s also important to get your fill of fruit and veg and not to follow that overindulgence with a fad diet in January that cuts out the food you need to support your running.
“Consistency is the key to running success,” says Craggs. “Now is not the time for a crazy new diet or to start excluding whole food groups. You need to fuel your training with high-quality carbohydrates as well as adequate fats and protein.”
If you do want to make a healthy change to your diet then Craggs’s recommendation is to do some more cooking for yourself.
“Spend some time in the kitchen!” says Craggs. “Even if it’s just two to three times a week to start off with. Cook for yourself and look to vary your meals and include a broad span of fruit and vegetables. Vitamins C, B6, E, D and zinc all contribute to a healthy functioning immune system, which can stave off some of the colds and infections that can really hamper the consistency of your training.”
4. Get Cross
Cross-training should already be part of your training routine and considering you can do it indoors, it’s an even more attractive option in the winter.
“Your heart and lungs don’t know the difference between being on a bike, a cross-trainer, swimming and running,” says Craggs. “Your muscles will thank you if you add variety through cross-training which can match the benefits of additional running with greater strength gains and less impact.”
5. Get Cross (Again)
“The UK has a wonderful tradition of cross-country running and it all kicks off in the autumn,” says Craggs. “It’s great for building strength but it’s also good for just getting out and racing without thinking too much about times and paces. Many of the sport’s best use cross-country races in the autumn and winter to provide the platform for the following year’s PBs on the roads. Give it a try!”
6. Map Out The Next Year Of Running
Having fixed goals in mind for the future makes it easier to stay motivated in the present, so line up your targets for next year to energise your winter training.
“Sit down over a nice warm drink and reflect upon your year so far,” says Craggs. “Think about what’s gone well and what could be improved. Alongside this, shortlist some races or goals which will get you fired up. Marrying up your goals with where you feel you currently are is the best starting point for a plan.”
7. Kit Yourself Out
“Having the right kit is crucial to motivation when you look out of the window and contemplate that session in the cold,” says Craggs.
“Kit yourself out with layers of sweat-wicking, sport-specific fabric. Look to arm warmers and hats to stay warm without basting yourself like a turkey.”
Written by Nick Harris-Fry for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.