Running in winter: 5 tips + the biggest myths
This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
As soon as the temperatures drop, it is icy or even snow lies, many joggers turn out to be runners of fair weather. Why? This is obvious. And maybe you know it yourself: In winter it costs much more to pack yourself up and go outside. But today I’ll tell you how you manage to overcome exactly this inner bastard. I’d like to give you some tips and tricks on how to prepare yourself for the training in the fresh air on cold days and how you can really do it. It is also time to settle the score with the biggest myths. So stay tuned!
1. Preparation is everything!
- Going outside in wind and weather needs to be overcome. So it really helps me when I prepare my running clothes on the eve before of the training, set my alarm clock and start the next morning with my trail right away. If you are absolutely not the morning person, then you can of course leave the house later. Why don’t you think about what time you want to start and then go through? Regardless of whether it rains, snows or winds. Believe me: The feeling after the run, when you’ve made it, is definitely worth it.
- However, before going into the cold, it is advisable to warm up a little indoors. Instead, I put on my running outfit (except for the shoes) and then do 50 jumping jacks, 50 high knees and 15 push-ups. Do this twice and Believe me, then you’ll be warm. As an additional motivation boost, you are welcome to join in some good mood music.
2. Don’t dress too warm!
- Probably this tip will surprise you. And I admit it: That sounds paradoxical indeed. But it’s quite logical that if we wear too thick clothes, the heat will accumulate at some point. The sweat, which can’t evade, makes it easy to catch a cold. Attention: Of course, you shouldn’t go running in shorts and shirts now (I know I’m a great role model with my pictures, huh?). But what I want to say is, it’s best to put on different layers. The well known onion look has been tried and tested (does this expression exist in English as well?). For example, I like to put a long-sleeved undershirt in my leggings and wear a thin running jacket over it.
- Did you know that most of the heat can escape above your head? It is therefore particularly important that we have enough warmth at this area. You can either wear a running cap or – and I prefer that – a headband. I also wear a scarf that can be tied up to the top and running gloves that can be used to operate the smartphone.
3. Track your route + set goals!
- New training programs, different routes, changing intensities and small helpers such as smart watches or fitness trackers will help you stay motivated. This keeps running exciting and you can see your personal success right away.
- By the way: The trails, which are often overcrowded in the summer, you will almost always have to go by yourself during the cold months. That also makes it easier when you restart now. There are no observers to watch you and judge your speed (although that shouldn’t matter anyway, you do this for yourselves). And for all those who need exactly these spectators, because they are more likely to reach their limits (I hate to admit it, but I belong to them): Run through the city once. In Zurich this works wonderfully, if there weren’t so many red lights. 😉
- Set your personal goal: Maybe you would like to sign up for a run? Or you want to be able to run 10 kilometers in a certain time until three months from now? Whatever it is: Write down your goal and train for it.
4. That’s why darkness doesn’t stop you!
- If you want to improve your endurance, but don’t like to run on dark days or evenings when there is no daylight left, then I have a tip for you. Why don’t you find a 400-metre track near you? They are usually lit up in the evenings and you can concentrate on your technique and breathing because it’s only straight out.
- Many paths are lit up in winter anyway. Here it’s only important that you protect yourselves. Reflectors are very useful here. I also have a cap with headlamp, which lights up the way nicely. Because I’m a little scared, too, of course.
5) Find a fellow sufferer!
As they say, shared suffering is half suffering. This also applies to winter runs. If you make an appointment with someone, you can’t cancel as well as if you want to do it all on your own. And if you’re someone who prefers to travel alone (it includes me), it’s best to tell someone around you. It totally helps me motivate myself. Because if that person asks me what my run was like, I want to be able to say “Great!”. And not “Oh, I was too lazy.”
Myth 1: Jogging in the cold is unhealthy
Wrong: jogging at zero degrees is much healthier than jogging at 30 degrees in summer. In our latitudes it doesn’t get extremely cold anyway. So the problem of breathing in too cool air does not occur. This is only the case at temperatures of minus fifteen degrees and more. In order to prevent colds, you should put on dry clothes immediately after the training and also change the stretching exercises inside.
Myth 2: When you run in winter you catch a cold
That is partly true. It is recommended to breathe through the nose on cold days. If you only breathe through your mouth, it dries out the mucous membranes and more dirt gets into your throat – and thus unfiltered into your lungs. On the way through the nose the air is filtered first. It is also moistened and warmed in this way. Here’s my tip: Get a multifunctional scarf. You can tie it in front of your mouth or, as I have it, buy a tubular scarf that can be pulled up on one end.
Myth 3: In winter you run faster than in summer
Right. Often we dress too coldly and feel like we can balance it out by running faster. That’s why it’s important to dress in an onion look. This way you don’t have to take over from the very beginning (see tips on clothing above). Generally speaking, it can be said that endurance sports with regular exercise are ideal in winter. This is how you breathe in and out more consistently. And besides, not so deep. So if you know the problem with the scratchy throat, make sure you are not going too fast.
Myth 4: In winter you lose weight faster when jogging
The body naturally uses more energy at low temperatures. Therefore, this myth is understandable. A trained runner will probably not notice the difference at all. For beginners it is important that they do not overreach themselves.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your running gear and let’s get some fresh air. By the way: HIIT is also absolutely feasible in cold weather. What exactly this is and what my sport routine looks like, you can read here.
What’s your tip?
I would be happy if you let me know in the comments whether you go jogging in winter or not. I’d also be interested to know what you’ve learned from this blog post and if you have any other tips? I’m looking forward to it. Of course you can – as always – leave your questions and give me more input for new blog posts.
All love from cold Zurich,