By Eric Senseman
Running in cold weather is like taking a giant leap into the future. Your muscles are tighter, your joints stiffer, and your pace slower. Although it might feel like you aged in the magnitude of years overnight, you’re just a day older. Gone are the warm summer mornings when you pop out of bed, throw on your running kit, and move sprightly as soon as the watch starts. In the cold winter mornings, you need to warm the body and limber up the legs before moving swiftly. Use these three tips to help your body adjust to cold-weather running.
Perform pre-run dynamic stretches. If you don’t usually, carve out just five extra minutes before your run to get limber. These dynamic stretches can be done in the warmth of your house. Try five simple movements, outlined in this Runner’s World article: Side lunges, single-leg deadlifts, straight-leg lateral swings, bent-knee lateral swings, and bent-knee forward swings. Five minutes later, you’ll feel more like a day older instead of years older.
Start slow, and run slower for longer.Whether you’re out for an easy run, a mid-week workout, or a weekend long run, start your run even slower than usual as temperatures dip. By easing into the run, you’ll give your muscles and joints more time to fully warm up. On workout days, in particular, spend longer jogging easily before you begin the workout. Extend the workout an extra five or ten minutes before you hit the gas. On long runs, take an extra mile of light jogging before increasing the pace.
Use warmer parts of the day for workouts. A morning run is a ritual that many runners cherish as much as their morning coffee. Hats off to you, early birds. But in colder weather, you might perform better in a workout if you hold off until the afternoon. Set out during your lunch break or after work once the temperatures have warmed up. In doing so, you’ll warm up more quickly during the run and the workout splits may come easier. Plus, with fewer hours of daylight during the winter, you’ll navigate those fast splits more safely under the sun than in the cold, dark mornings.
Winter running takes some adjustments. You add layers of clothing, navigate in the dark, run in the snow, and warm up more slowly. But despite the changing circumstances, we hope the tips from our winter running blog series will help you maintain your training load so that you can accomplish all of your goals in the new year. Stay safe, and keep running!