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Cool Running: The Running Bible Guide to Winter Survival

As the summer days draw to a close and the coming of the winter season is on the horizon it can be difficult to stay motivated. We swap our early morning run for an extra 30 minutes in bed, but here at The Running Bible we know that summer bodies are crafted in the winter, and those Spring Marathons come around all too quickly. So, we have put together some tips on surviving the freeze.

Temperature Shift:

You check the forecast for the next day, sadly realising its going to be a rather chilly 5 degrees!! You reach for your favourite hoodie, winter coat, thick gloves and 2 bobble hats, which feel fantastic when you step outside and you’re all toasty and warm, 1 mile in and you turn into an apple pie. Cool on the outside, but molten in the middle. The general rule is to dress for about 10 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. So, if the forecast says 5 degrees then it’ll feel around 15 by the time you’ve hit your stride, and don’t worry, the initial chill will give you all the motivation you need to get up to speed.

Dress to Impress:

Or just stay warm, either way the key here is to work those layers.

We recommend a good base layer, the technical base layers hug the skin helping to seal in the heat but another fundamental feature is the sweat wicking abilities of tech fabrics, this will draw the moisture away from the body avoiding the cooling effect it was designed for.

Next up is a running top, looser than the base layer but not baggy. If you’ve gone for a short sleeved base layer, then get a long-sleeved running top, or vice versa, this extra layer will help trap warm air in, rather than escaping out.

Finally we recommend a lightweight jacket, specifically designed for running. Winter running jackets are designed to keep you dry, a lot are windproof so even when the wind-chill bites you won’t feel it. Breathability is always a challenge when it comes to running jackets, letting that hot air out and not letting the cold rush in is a challenge for jacket manufacturers, and this is generally what bumps the price.

Next up we ditch the shorts for running tights. Again, technical materials are the way to go with these. They will wick the sweat away and keep your legs warm and supple. We wouldn’t recommend lightweight as there doesn’t tend to be much wind proofing in the light weight versions.

Couple of things to note, you can lose a great deal of heat from your extremities. Gloves and a hat are a sure-fire way to feel warmer in the winter, although there are mixed reviews on wearing hats. They are not for everyone, but they are small enough to remove if it gets too warm under head. Apply the 10-degree rule when making your selection and you should be fine.

Traction Starts Here:

Now depending on where you live in the world will dictate just how cold it gets and how extreme the conditions get. Even when it snows there’s nothing wrong with venturing out. Snow compacts under foot and cushions your run, taking away some of the impact on the joints. Ice on the other hand is a no no, try and avoid that at all costs. If your climate dictates that ice is a regular occurrence, then you can invest in some over shoe running spikes.

For general snow running a good pair of trail shoes will give you the best traction and the best chance if there’s any hidden ice underneath. If your climate range is a little milder and you live in the UK where it rains, a lot, then investing in a pair of Gore-Tex running shoes is a great way to keep your feet dry.

In the event that you just can’t part with your favourite pair of runners, then socks are your next best option. There is an abundance of waterproof, windproof, blister proof socks (alright take the last one with a pinch of salt) on the market all boasting super fabrics that’ll keep your toes dry and warm. Check the reviews online before making your choice.

Be Safe, Be Seen:

With the colder months comes darkness. It is dark early in the morning and dark when you get home, so being seen is very important. I see (or not see as is the case here) a worrying number of runners and cyclists out there dressed in dark colours with no reflective clothing or lights.

Lights are the obvious choice to help you see and be seen. The days are short and nights are long, so having a light on your front and back is a great way for pedestrians, dog walkers, cars and so on to know you’re there, we recommend something that flashes to really attract the eye of people around.

The most popular solution to help you see on those dark nights is a head torch. You don’t have to carry it in your hands and by pure luck or design it lights where you look, which can be the difference between safely navigating your run or rolling your ankle and hobbling your way home. If you don’t like head torches, there are lots of chest lights out there too.

Most winter running gear has reflective panels. One thing to consider is that if you are wearing a pack make sure that it doesn’t obscure the reflective parts of whatever you have on.

We have a range of great winter clothing available in our store

A Couple of Important Bits:

Hydration is often only given serious consideration during the hot summer months, but any seasoned runner will tell you if you get out on a long run even in the cold of winter you will sweat, a lot. Staying hydrated is important for many factors, performance obviously being the most important one, but not singled out from dehydration.

Speaking of performance, warming up before your run has never been more crucial than in the cold winter months. A wise man described muscles akin to toffee, once warmed they’re supple and lovely, cold they’re stiff and far more susceptible to damage. The cold also inhibits blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles. Gone are the days of static stretching, we are utilising dynamic stretching to warm the body, these dynamic movements mimic the natural movements of the body and also promote better blood flow than our retired static stretches, think squats, lunges and some good arm swinging.

One Really Important Point

Above all make sure someone knows you’re running and roughly what time you should be home, always take a phone with you so you can get in contact with someone should an accident happen. Most running watches or phone apps offer a live tracking system which, if you have access to, we recommend you use these. Garmin has ‘LiveTrack’ and Strava Summit has ‘Beacon’


James Petty

The Running Bible

Be safe, train hard.Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever.