Slush, fog, sub-zero temperatures - and you're really supposed to go out now? Of course! Even cold and snow are no reason to go into hibernation. Running in winter not only strengthens the immune system, it can even be really fun if you take a few things to heart. We have five important tips for running in winter ready for you!
#1 Warm-up & Cool-down
Cold start into the running pleasure? Better not! The colder it is, the longer it takes your muscles to get up to operating temperature. Compared to the summer, you should extend your warm-up phase to avoid strains and muscle hardening. Warm up for at least ten minutes at an easy, steady pace before switching to your usual training pace. When it comes to cool-down, however, less is more. While you shouldn't stop running and stretching, you should reduce the amount of time you spend in this phase. If you spend too much time outside in sweaty clothes after your workout, you risk catching a cold.
#2 Layer by layer
In winter, choosing the right running clothes is especially important. Layering ("onion principle") is the magic word here. Instead of wearing one thick layer of clothing, it is better to wear several thin layers on top of each other, which you can gradually get rid of when you get warm while running. The inner layer, the so-called base layer, should be as close to the body as possible, because it has the task of wicking away sweat and keeping the body dry and warm. The mid-layer is a warming intermediate layer and serves as insulation. As an outer layer, a functional shell layer is recommended for protection against wind, snow and rain. For example, you can start layering with breathable functional underwear as a base layer, put a short- or long-sleeved functional shirt on top and finish with a water- and wind-repellent soft or hardshell jacket. Special attention should also be paid to the hands and head: thin gloves and a well-fitting hat or wide headband provide optimal protection from the cold.
In principle, you should dress so that you shiver slightly during the first few meters, because your body temperature rises sharply after just a few minutes of training. If you are going to run by car, pack a change of clothes and a towel so that you can change immediately after the run.
#3 Better safe than sorry
In the winter, it's best to play it safe and take your running down a notch. The cold season is ideal for base training. Save the fast tempo runs for spring and never compare your winter running times with your summer best times. Running in winter means double work for your body: besides the effort of running, it is constantly busy keeping your muscles and extremities at operating temperature. Too intensive running sessions can weaken the body and thus miss the desired effect. Especially the wind should not be underestimated: The wind from running and the sweaty running clothes cause the body to cool down even faster - the so-called "wind chill effect" can make the actual temperature subjectively feel up to 5°C colder. Ideally, therefore, you should choose a route that you can shorten in an emergency, in case you cool down too much or a sudden change in the weather takes you by surprise.
The ground can also be tricky. Freshly fallen snow is a trouble-free running surface and has the positive effect of giving your foot and calf muscles an extra workout. Slush and wetness are also no problem as long as you are properly equipped: waterproof running shoes (e.g. with Gore-Tex) and non-slip tread are part of the basic winter equipment in any case. It only becomes critical when there is a layer of ice under snow, mud or leaves: then it is essential to slow down, take small steps and put the whole foot down - or rather switch to walking straight away. If you don't feel safe on icy paths because of the increased risk of injury, it's better to switch to the treadmill at the gym.
#4 See and be seen
If you can't train until late afternoon or evening, be sure to have the necessary equipment for a run in the dark. In addition to reflective running apparel and glow-in-the-dark vests, LED flashing lights and glow-in-the-dark wristbands can also help ensure optimal visibility. Also look for reflective details when choosing your running shoes. Headlamps are especially recommended if your running route is poorly lit. They are very lightweight and offer high luminosity and range.
#5 Drink, drink, drink
In winter, we often feel less thirsty due to the cold weather, even though the body loses almost as much fluid during exercise as it does in summer. Plus, the cool, dry air provides additional dehydration. So you should always drink enough: 200ml every 20 minutes is a good guideline. Ideally, your running drink should not be too cold.