Even though we don’t necessarily want to admit it, keeping your training up over winter is actually very beneficial. Obviously it is good for your health, particularly as winter is a time for overindulgence, but by sticking with your training regime you will have an advantage over those who don’t meaning that when the season begins again in the spring you will already be conditioned rather than starting from scratch.
When we stop training our bodies lose conditioning very quickly and in as little as three weeks your fitness level can drop to below where it was when you started training, meaning you have lost months of hard work.
The wintry conditions are much harder on the body so ensuring you are well equipped and prepared is integral to your health and safety.
Body temperature can be quite tricky to get right, you will warm up as you run but factors such as rain and wind chill factor will still hit you. Your body can easily be tricked into thinking it is warm despite the cold outside. Also as your body begins to sweat and your clothes become damp they will become cold against the skin which in extreme circumstances could result in hypothermia.
Your best bet is to wear a high wicking base layer top, base layers are great as they help to regulate your body’s temperature while wicking moisture away from your skin. Both your skin and your top will remain dry. On your bottom half, running tights with a fleece lining and mesh panels are brilliant at keeping you warm and remaining breathable.
If there is strong wind you will need a windproof layer, a lightweight windproof jacket will stop the wind penetrating your base layer to help keep your body at a regular temperature. Your windproof jacket needs to be breathable to stop you getting too hot and sweaty, breathable softshell jackets are the best choice. For full protection look for a softshell jacket that is waterproof.
Making sure you are seen in the dark is paramount to your safety and the safety of other road users and reflective clothing is a must have. When it comes to being seen obviously the brighter you are the better, and hi-viz clothing has finally become stylish. You can choose from jackets, vests, shorts, tights and even rucksacks all with varying degrees of hi viz detail worked in to the other technical specifications. If fluorescent isn’t your scene there are plenty of options to keep you safe; clothing which features reflective piping is a good choice as the piped areas glow white and will enable you to be seen. When it comes to running in the dark more is better, giving cyclists, drivers, walkers and other runners every opportunity to see you to avoid collisions and accidents.
On very cold days don’t forget about your head and your hands. These areas will remain exposed to the elements and you lose a lot of heat through both. By keeping your head and hands warm you will have more heat to distribute to the rest of your body. A lightweight pair of gloves and a hat will go a long way in keeping you comfortable and will protect you against frostbite.
In cold weather there is a higher risk of your muscles will seize up so warming up and down is more important than ever to prevent injury. If your muscles are adequately warm and supple you will also have more stability and balance if running in slippery conditions.
Winter does not have to be a time to sit still and hide - stay warm, stay stay safe and stay fit!!