If you’re too stubborn to actually take the time to get warm inside, at the very least use your first mile as an opportunity to ease into the effort. That quick tempo run you’ve built up is all well and good, but an initially slower pace will give your body time to acclimatise.
2. Be bold – start cold
We get it: winter can be nasty, especially when the temperatures drop to fleece-over-jumper-over-t-shirt levels. When going on a run, resist the temptation, however, to throw on as many clothes as possible. While you’re onto something with the whole layering thing, it’s important to avoid overheating and getting all sweaty, as you’ll just end up cold, clammy and dreaming of warmer days and moisture-wicking vests. Speaking of: pay attention to fabrics and tech specs, because it’s critical to choose sweat-wicking fabrics that can pull moisture away from the body and keep you dry and comfortable.
“It’s particularly important to layer smart in the winter months,” says Clayton, who suggests dressing like it’s a few degrees warmer outside than it actually is. “If you’re already warm when you start, you’re likely not going to get too cold on the move.”
Accessories are also crucial this time of year. Make sure your extremities – hands, ears, feet (including ankles) – are warm. “If you’re not dressed appropriately, with things like gloves and wool socks, you could be in dangerous territory,” says Milton.
3. Be aware of your body
While it might not feel this way a couple of kilometres in, running in winter is safe for almost everyone – but this doesn’t mean you should go out there without knowing how your body reacts to a drop in temperature. For the vast majority, cold weather running is safe and has its own benefits, but bear in mind any pre-existing issue that might put more strain on your body.
“The one thing to keep in mind is that those with asthma are more at risk for exercise-induced bronchospasm, or constriction of the airway,” says Milton. “Even those who do not have a diagnosed airway disease may feel mild effects.” Milton recommends starting off with short distances to allow your body to acclimatise to the difference in temperatures.
4. Manage your expectations
Just like tackling any mileage at altitude or in the heat, chilly miles come with their own set of challenges. Adjust your training accordingly, and don’t be too hard on yourself when your performance isn’t the same as on a beautifully crisp autumn day. “You have to shift your expectations,” says Lindsey Clayton, chief instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp. “Be easy on yourself, and rethink the way you’re looking at your workouts.”
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