by Rachel Varga, Registered Physiotherapist
With lower temperatures, freezing winds and darker days, it is no doubt that running outdoors in the winter can be difficult. No matter how much you love the sport, motivation can be much harder to find. Compared to warmer months, there is a lot more physical and mental preparation that comes with running at this time of year.
Despite this, running in the winter can still be enjoyable. As with any winter sport, it just requires the correct preparation. Here are some tips for running in the winter that might help get that foot out the door.
- Layer Up: It is important to protect your body from colder temperatures. Wearing clothing such as long running pants or leggings, and a long sleeve shirt with a jacket or vest can help keep you warm. Accessories such as long socks, head warmers, neck warmers and gloves can also block the wind from biting at those smaller exposed areas.
- Stay Hydrated: You might not feel thirsty, but you will still sweat in cold temperatures. In addition, the cold air will take away moisture from your body when you breathe. This is what is happening when you can see your breath in the air.
- Warm-Up: Muscles and joints will feel stiff in the cold. You want to ensure blood is flowing and the body is loosened up before getting right into a run. Without a proper warm-up, performance can be impaired and the risk of injury increases. Dynamic warm-up drills followed by a 5-10-minute brisk walk or jog can achieve this. Doing some of the warm-up indoors can also help increase body temperature before stepping outside. HERE is a link to a quick YouTube video that demonstrates several dynamic warm-up examples to choose from (3min 50sec).
- Plan the Route: Check the weather beforehand so you can prepare for the temperature and wind chill, and if there is a chance that some streets will be snowy and slippery, try to pick a route that will be clear. It is also important to keep in mind that the days are shorter and darker in the winter, so try and pick a time that you can see what conditions you are up against.
- Remember the Goal: Whether it is a race in the spring you are training for, working on improving fitness, or you are just trying to shake off some winter blues, reminding yourself of the purpose behind your running can help keep you motivated.
Something else I always like to remind myself when I am gearing up for a run at this time of year, is that it is always the coldest at the beginning of a run. This can definitely be the hardest part to get through mentally, but if you make it past the first stretch, it should only get easier (and warmer) from there!
Ultimately, do not be hard on yourself. Winter running is not easy! If you are having a difficult time increasing speed or adding on more distance to your run, try to modify, think about what you did achieve, and be proud of yourself for getting out there!
If you are a winter warrior and you are looking to reduce and/or prevent injury risk during running, book an appointment with our Registered Physiotherapist, Rachel Varga, at Synergy Sports Medicine East on the Danforth by clicking HERE!