Dress for the weather
A Scottish winter can be unpredictable, sun, snow, ice, rain, and wind but don’t let that put you off going for a run. Dressing for the weather is the trick to making it more pleasant when you don’t want to head out. As a rough way to gage it is to dress for 10˚C warmer than it is outside. Layering helps you keep warm as it traps air between each layer creating an insulating effect. A base layer, long sleeve top and a jacket is a good combination for a cold day. The best piece of kit you’ll get for winter running is a good waterproof/windproof jacket. It will make running through the elements so much more enjoyable. A pair of running tights can make all the difference, keeping the legs warm and stopping the rain, sleet, or snow from stinging against your legs. Dressing for the weather will help you get out the door in all conditions to help you achieve your training goals.
Warming up is even more important
When it’s cold outside, it’s even more important than normal to warm up properly to reduce injury risk. Some studies have shown that in colder temperatures muscle are susceptible to fatiguing more quickly and have a reduced ability to produce maximal power. This means a cold muscle is less efficient and can therefore lead to an increased risk of injury. On colder days reduced the pace of the run by 30-60 second per mile for the first 3 – 5 minutes and pause to do a few dynamic exercises. Examples include, high knees, butt kicks, walking lunge, bodyweight squats, side lunge and high skips. This will increase the body’s temperature, improve mobility, and prepare your muscles to endure the stresses of exercises. The best warm up exercises are ones which mimic the exercise you’re about to do. That is why if you’re going for a run, a very light intensity jog is good to start with.
Train to time, rather than distance
Winter conditions can make running more difficult with head winds and underfoot conditions which can slow you down significantly. During winter condition, particularly when it’s snowy, it can be good to alter your goal so instead of aiming for a certain distance, you aim to run for a certain length of time. This is a simple way of managing training load in tough conditions without overloading the body. As already mentioned, colder conditions can increase fatigue on the muscles, so adding in another factor which increases the effort required, plus aiming for a distance which will take much longer to achieve than normal, is a recipe for injury.
Dynamic recovery during intervals
During interval training try and keep moving through the recovery period. It’s easy after a hard rep to stand still, watching the clock tick, waiting to go again. Static recovery causes bigger swings in heat production throughout the session going from high intensity efforts to being stationary in the cold. As mentioned above, cold muscles are less likely to produce the same power as warm muscles. Therefore, to avoid these swings in temperature an active recovery period is recommended. This just needs to be a light jog to help reduced the sudden temperature swings between efforts and recovery. This can help reduce muscle fatigue through the interval session during cold weather.
Have a change of clothes ready
In winter you will cool down very quickly after exercise. It is a good idea to have a change of clothes ready to change in to straight after your training session to stop you getting too cold. Wearing sweaty clothes will enhance the cooling effect on the body as it begins to work to maintain the core temperature. Changing your clothes can help the body regulate its core temperature back to normal following exercise without you getting the post workout chills.
Top tips blog created by Physiotherapist Hamish