Canadian winters pose a unique challenge to a runner’s fitness and motivation. It can be tempting to hibernate indoors rather than face the harsh elements during an outdoor workout. However, it is important for our physical and mental well being to stay active during the winter months, and running outside provides respite from all the extra time spent indoors. Here are some tips for winter running to help you maintain your fitness this season.
Adjust Your Mileage
Running on a snow-covered or slippery sidewalk changes your form, and makes running considerably more difficult. As you transition from fall to winter conditions, consider making your runs shorter and based on effort, rather than trying to maintain the same pace you would for dry conditions.
Dress appropriately and wear layers
This is a trial and error process. You want to start your run feeling cool, because you will warm up once you get going. However, you do not want to feel frozen because this makes it more difficult for your muscles to work. Here is a layering example: merino wool base layer (or two) and a wind resistant outer layer. On the really cold days, a balaclava and instant hand and toe warmer packs are a must.
Strengthen and Stretch
Keep your body strong with a strength and mobility exercise program. This will help prevent injury as your body is adapting to the new stresses of winter running.
Keeping your thoughts on the beautiful winter scenery around you, rather than grumbling about your numb toes, can make a winter run much more tolerable. Keep your longer term health and fitness goals in mind during a particularly cold and slippery run. If anything, this experience will make you appreciate good-weather running conditions that much more.