7 Tips for Winter Running

Winter might be the time to cool your racing jets, but a regular running program is necessary to maintain the majority of your overall fitness. Whether you are training to race in the spring or just for the love of your sport, here are seven tips to help keep one foot in font of the other until the weather warms.

1: Slow Down! With cold air and running surfaces that are far from ideal, allow yourself to run slow, breathe easy and stay warm. With all the additional clothing, which increases body mass and frictional resistance, your effort to run a certain pace is greater. Be kind and accept a slower pace.

2: Running in cold temperatures increases the mechanical ground forces that are transmitted through frozen footwear. Often runners complain of sore knees and hips after their first run in colder weather. Some of this soreness and residual body ache is caused by different impact vibrational forces. To avoid too much discomfort, slow down and run shorter durations. If your typical long run is ninety minutes, best to reduce that duration by twenty five percent. I rarely prescribe runs longer than two hours when the weather is cold. But I do advocate longer snowshoes to build durations and minimize risk of injury.

3: Layer your clothing with a wicking layer, warmth layer and then wind layer. Use over mitts and light gloves to protect your hands. Use longer and thicker socks in running shoes that fit you well. Cover exposed skin when temperatures drop below -15C. Watch the wind chill, too. Use goggles and a facemask or balaclava. Men should make sure they wear wind resistant undergarments and/or pants!

4: Wear soft tread shoes and even winter non-slip shoe covers that have steel studs. These choices will reduce slipping and allow for a slightly longer stride length. But be mindful to strike the ground with your mid foot and not heel, allowing for the greatest tread contact. This change will likely slow your pace and even stimulate a higher cadence to reach your normal run speeds.

5: Hydrate continuously on runs greater than 90 minutes. With additional clothing that likely increases sweat rate, dehydration can occur quickly. Ideally your pace should be slow enough to minimize perspiration. A water bottle waist belt works well but must be worn underneath the wind layer to prevent freezing.

6: Do your hard running and intervals on an indoor track or inside on the treadmill. Frequent speed intervals builds cardiorespiratory fitness, maintain neurological coordination at higher speeds and challenges the body to handle higher ground forces. .

7: Book a destination race in a warm place to enjoy all your hard work in the cold! Even a quick trip to Vancouver or Victoria is a nice break from freezing temperatures:)

–Calvin Zaryski