Running Tips: Winter Running Gear
Running in Winter is at its heart not all that different from running in summer really - a focused mind and goals will keep you going, but cold weather and dangerous conditions can mean you need a change to your routine. Let's check this out now...
One of the trickiest parts is just to muster up the courage to start your run in the freezing cold. As a human we naturally want to avoid such things when we can - so when you have a nice warm house with the kettle on and are looking out the front door to frosted ground and minus temperatures it can take some guts to actually get outside.
So let's discuss the most obvious part of cold weather running. Temperatures can vary greatly in the UK, but over the last few years we've not really had a 'big freeze' as such, and on average the temperatures over the last couple of years has been around 5oC.
What to wear running in winter
With this in mind it's best to try and get some running clothes that will help keep you warm. Your body will generate more plenty of heat whilst running, but when it's battling freezing temperatures it can do with a little help. Having a layer system is a good idea for athletes who train in all weather conditions say that dressing 'like an onion' is the best method. Start off with a long sleeve base layer that's designed with running in mind. This will keep sweat away whilst keeping you warm, and then add on to this a running top or jacket.
If it's raining then ideally you'll want this to be waterproof too. For your lower half it's a similar story - running tights or tracksuit bottoms will keep your legs warm and can be supplemented with shorts over the top. You will find however that a little while in to your run you will feel the warmth and you may even feel overdressed.
When this happens, you could simply undo your running jacket and wrap on your waist or keep in in a small drawstring gym bag on your back. Some people will skip over the leg tights and just stick to shorts - it's a little cold at first but once you're running it provides a great outlet for heat to escape your body. We should also probably talk about your head too.
There was an old myth that "most of your body heat is lost through your head" which was debunked a few years ago when it was found that rather 40-50% heat loss, the head only accounts for about 10%. You can wear a hat to keep your head warm but again you may wish to leave this part of your body unclothed to allow heat escape.
You may also wish to get yourself from reflective or high visibility clothing too. Winter has much less sunlight and you may find that going for a run at 4pm it will be pitch dark by half past and you will need to ensure that other people - especially motorists - can see you. You can pick up high-vis vests to light up your torso or even just reflective bands you can wrap around yourself to let people know where you are.
Now one part that I've yet to touch on - because it is so important - is your feet. Having a good pair of running shoes and wicking socks will make your winter running experience much better. Having some wicking socks such as these from Puma will keep your feet dry by drawing water away from your feet, but equally having shoes that allow your feet to breath, and are a little bit waterproof will help too.
Something like the Cloudrunner Winter Edition is an all in solution, being waterproof, windproof and having a specially made bottom surface that makes it easy to run across rough terrain. They are rather expensive however, and you will probably find that any trail shoes will do just as good a job as they are designed for challenging terrain and are normally a lot cheaper.
So that's our quick guide to the gear you may need for running in winter - overall you just need to keep warm and stay safe.