There are two sets of things required for running in the winter. Proper equipment and mental toughness. The latter is especially important if you are planning on running long distances in the cold, as you will find, especially if you have never run before. So now let’s start to get you ready for winter running. You need the following items: A back up cross training activity, running gloves, some type of toboggan or hat, night beams and proper running shoes. Now here is the breakdown for why you need each:
Proper running shoes
This one is true for any time of the year that you run. If you plan on running surfaces that may be icy you may need a pair with more traction. While, it may not be as big of a deal if you are not a high mileage runner (i.e. less than maybe 15-20 miles per week) it may not be as big of a deal but if you run much more than that then you need to invest in a really good pair of running shoes.
Most people who run will tell you that you need to swap out shoes about every 300-500 miles and it may not be a bad idea to have a second pair if you run more than every other day in order to give your other running shoes a chance to breathe.
Unless you are planning for a daily midmorning run, more than likely at some point you are going to be running in the dark because during the winter there is lots of darkness. If you live in some parts of the southeastern United States it does not get light until just before eight in the morning and it is easily dark by six at night. Unless you work second or third shift you will be running at least some in the dark.
Night beams can come in many forms. There are many reflective running vests, night beams and other variations of lighting that you can put on your body for running. The reason why you would want to do that is so oncoming cars and any other vehicles can see you while running, which will significantly lessen your chance of getting hit by an on coming vehicle while running. With most running gear lighting, cars are typically able to see you from a quarter mile away.
Tobaggan or hat along with gloves
Sorry, but a baseball cap and simple mittens are not enough in the winter for runners. The reason is because a baseball cap does not cover your ears and with your gloves, let’s face it, when your hands are cold it’s uncomfortable. If your ears are really cold that could make it hard for your entire head to stay warm and potentially could affect your inner core temperature or worse even make you sick while running. After all, one of the reasons you probably run in the first place is to keep yourself healthy, right?
The important thing to make sure of with whatever head covering you choose while running is that it keeps your inner body and head warm.
Backup cross training activity
Some days it is either going to be too cold to run or you aren’t going to feel up to running in the cold. Or if the roads you were planning on running are icy it is within your best interest to take a rain check on running.
However, that does not mean you have to take a raincheck on exercising. Some easy options potentially could be a treadmill, an exercise video, or if you have a gaming system with motion sensors (Nintendo WII, Xbox 360 Kinect, etc) there are certain fitness video games that you can play which can have some of the same impact.
Let’s face it. When it is 10 degrees outside some days your muscles are going to be sore and tight (although this can mostly avoided by stretching before a run), your going to be tired and your body is going to be screaming take me home, you crazy person! There will be days when you need to ignore that voice and just keep running, especially if you are running a winter race.
So what are the two most important things to have during winter? All the proper equipment plus mental toughness should equal a good winter for running.