You might be a fair-weather runner already, and know all the many plus-points of running – or you may be keen to start 2017 with a new fitness pledge. This guide gives you the basics to get started with winter running.
If you're not sure why you should brave the cold weather, here's another helpful guide!
1: The Right Clothes
Winter running clothing is similar to summer running kit but involves a few more layers and adaptations. Depending on the weather, start with a short or long-sleeved baselayer top. Add another base layer and then a windproof gilet or a waterproof/windproof jacket.
Most people wear running tights in winter and these can be chosen for greater levels of warmth. Tights with a light fleece inside will be ideal for cold running days.
Then you’ll need running gloves, socks and headwear. Of course, running in a Scottish summer can sometimes call for all these items, too, but in winter you will definitely need to wrap up a little more.
2: Feet First
With the arrival of ice, snow and wet weather, you need trainers that grip the ground well. Many runners choose waterproof – usually Gore-Tex lined – trainers for keeping their feet dry in winter. Running gaiters help to stop the wet and damp coming in around the ankles.
If you are going off-road you’ll need aggressively gripped soles on your shoes. Most trail running shoes have a shock absorbing sole with good grip. When it’s extra icy or snowy, add Yaktrax or Kahtoola style grips to your trainers.
3: Be Safe - Be Seen
When it’s dark, it’s important other people and vehicles can see you coming. Choose brightly coloured clothing, hi-viz tops, clothes with reflective details and lights, such as one worn on your upper arm or a head torch.
When running at night or off the beaten track, it’s a good idea to carry a phone with you in case of emergency. Pop it into a pocket or a small rucksack.
If you are running further afield, take a rucksack with a few important supplies such as water, snacks, extra layers and spare gloves, as well as a mobile phone for emergenicies.
4: Warm Up and Cool Down
Muscles and joints get much colder and stiffer in winter so it’s important to do a good warm up before going for a run. Walk first, then build to a gentle jog before doing a series of dynamic stretches, such as lunges and squats. A warm up will help to prevent cold muscle injuries.
After a winter run you should stretch muscles out to make sure they are in great condition for your next run. This will help to dissapate the build up of lactic acid in the muscles, as well as helping wuth recovery and flexibility.
5: Go Off-Road
Running around the streets of your local area is easiest in winter because the days are short and the street lights will allow you to see your way ahead. However, it’s much more fun to go off-road and get your adventurous spirit in gear!
At first, it’s a good idea to head to a local park that you know well or on a well-trodden path so you do not get lost. A good quality head torch will light your way and you will be surprised how well you can see the path or trail ahead with one small beam.
There is an otherworldly atmosphere when running at night, like charting a route through your own fairy tale scene. It’s very uplifting. If you are nervous, get a friend to go with you.
6: Find a Friend
If you have friends who already run in winter and in the dark why not ask to join them? You’ll discover new routes and enjoy the experience more with other people. A running club is another great choice for boosting motivation throughout the long, dark winter months. Running with other people can help you to develop a challenge, gives you more motivation and gives you a great chance to make friends.
7: Don't Let Bad Weather Stop You
Outdoor running is the best way to boost your feel-good hormones, but if it really is an awful weather day, a treadmill run is better than nothing at all. Keep up with your goals when you can't get out there. Conditioning stretches can also be done on these bad weather rest days.
8: Start Early
The dark, cold and wet can easily put you off running in winter so get up early and go before you have time to think about it. Morning running in the winter will set you up for the day and have you smiling before you get to work.
Alternatively, make the most of the daylight by going for a run at lunchtime. The chances are, by the time you leave the office it will be getting dark and you’ll feel less inclined to run.
9: Challenge Yourself
You could set your own goals for winter, such as running three times a week for at least 20 minutes each time, or run 30 winter miles in one month. Other people join a group challenge like Marcothon, or the 5x50. Marcothon call on runners to run every day in December for 25 minutes or 5k, while the 5x50 is 50 days of exercise starting in January to raise funds for charity.
Successful winter running is a lot about making sure you seize the right moment to get outdoors. So what are you waiting for? Get geared up and get out there! When you're out, share your adventures with #MyTiso.