26th December 2016. Being a runner means enjoying a challenge. It means knowing that you have a long and gruelling run ahead of you, but lacing up your running shoes anyway. Running is all about pushing your limits to see how much further, faster, and longer you can keep going. You aren't just working against the physical limits of your body, though. You're also up against a host of other challenges, up to and including the elements! It's true: the weather has a huge impact on runners. Have you ever heard someone discuss what a big impact temperature can have on race times? There's a reason why most runners have a preference when it comes to the weather. However, the world does keep on turning ? so we can't enjoy our favourite weather all year-round. Once the winter comes, and everyone begins to bundle up, it's easy to feel like it's time to hang up the running shoes. Why not face the challenge directly? With the right preparations, attitude, and winter running strategies, you can beat the cold. You can even use the winter as a time to push yourself harder. Starting the year off in great shape and ready to keep making gains is definitely the place to be. So how can you beat the cold? Start by understanding the principles of dressing to run in winter weather.


Stay comfortable, don't dress to impress


Many runners find it's a challenge to know how to dress for the colder weather. In warm weather, it's easy ? everyone has their basic lightweight running outfit. It can seem like a bit of a guessing game when it comes to layers, though. It doesn't have to be that way. In fact, by memorising a few basic tips, you can stay pretty comfortable even when it's chilly. First, consider what to do when the temperature is above the freezing point. The basic guideline most runners follow is to choose the clothing you'd wear if it were 20 degrees hotter. For example, if it's a chilly 45F out, dress more lightly, as if it were 65F. The amount your body will heat up as you run is the reason for doing this. Remember to choose fabrics that will keep you from feeling soaked in perspiration; otherwise, you'll find yourself feeling rather uncomfortable in windy weather. Below freezing, layering is much more important. You'll want insulated clothing and comfortable but durable outerwear. Hats and gloves are vital as well. Tights will allow for more freedom of movement while also holding heat close to your body. In freezing temperatures, you may not even want to go out at all. Sometimes that is the better option, but we'll touch on that in a moment. Don't forget that winter requires special consideration for your shoes as well. Especially if you live in a snowy area, you'll want to choose a shoe that has less breathable mesh and more protection. The last thing any runner needs is a pair of soggy socks and wet feet. It won't just slow you down; it's definitely not a comfortable way to run. Consider your clothing choices carefully, but don't let the cold discourage you. It's time to think of challenging yourself.


How and when to continue running outside in the cold


So, you've dressed appropriately for the temperature. Now what? Let's discuss a couple of ways that you might want to change up the way you run for the winter. Why not start by keeping a log of your runs? If you want to keep yourself motivated, this is a good way to start. Write down when you run, how far you went, your running time, and the temperature outside. Challenge yourself to complete distance or time trials in different types of weather. You may also want to choose challenging routes, such as those with lots of uphill segments. While punishing, the cold weather can help you to drill down on your determination. Sometimes, it's simply going to be too cold outside to run. Maybe you also don't feel like running in the cold day after day. That's perfectly fine ? just be sure to get your exercise someplace else. There's no shame in hitting the treadmill when you start seeing snowflakes. Working out indoors can be just as good for you, even if it is a little more boring. However, once it becomes uncomfortably cold outside, you'll have an easier time exercising indoors. It's easier to warm up before using a treadmill than it is running in sub-zero temperatures. However, for the rest of the time when the weather is better, there are plenty of ways to get yourself jazzed up to go for a run outdoors.


Four ways to keep your motivation levels high



  1. Look for seasonal races in your local area. Sign up for at least one ? and preferably two or even three! It's true that it's not always easy to find races in the winter, especially if your area regularly sees very cold temperatures. However, it's worth looking, and you may even want to travel to a neighbouring area to participate in a race. When you know you have an event in which your performance is important; it's easier to stick to your schedule. You know you can't just go into a race without practice and effort in the lead up to the start. Even one run can help keep your motivation elevated in the winter.
  1. Get involved with friends or a running club. No matter where you choose to get your social running from, it's a vital part of keeping the fires burning. Going out with others yields several distinct advantages. First, you have someone to talk to while you run ? and that means someone who you can complain to about the cold, too. This helps to keep you focused on getting through the run rather than just abandoning the effort. Second, being a part of a club or a regular group of runners provides you with accountability. You can encourage others to stick to their goals, and they'll be able to help you stick to yours. Speaking of goals, how about thinking of some?
  1. Set goals that are fun to achieve. If you don't have a race motivating you to put forth an effort, you'll have to come up with something on your own. Think about what you'd like to accomplish regarding improving your running ability. Do you want to add another mile or two? Do you want to shave some seconds off your 5k time? If you were already working towards some goals before the winter arrived, don't give up on them now. Keep pushing to achieve them! This extra motivation will help push you out the door even after a glimpse at the thermometer gives you second thoughts.
  1. Find new and interesting places to run. The winter changes the way things look a lot. This means it's a good time to get out and see what you can find! You'll want to avoid very snowy areas, of course, as that can make running a little too difficult. There's a good chance there are some running paths in your area you haven't explored yet. You could also look for nearby parks or interesting natural areas in which to go running. Giving yourself new surroundings makes running in the cold much more interesting. Rather than focusing on the low temperatures, you'll just want to see more new things. In combination with our other tips, you can easily keep yourself fired up through the winter.
Get ready to enjoy winter running like never before

For some people, the best thing about the winter is when it ends. It's worth considering what you gain by embracing the challenges of the wintertime as a runner, though. Once you've adequately prepared yourself for winter running, you'll quickly find it's not so bad after all. When you combine those tips with our tricks for keeping your motivation in gear, you get a new, exciting seasonal running experience. A final word of encouragement: when you're out there running into the wind, and it's tough to keep on going, try to remember a moment of running triumph. Whether it was winning a race or placing a new personal best, focus on it as a way to power through your run. Soon, you won't be thinking about how cold you are ? just about reaching your goals!