The cold weather can turn running from a pleasurable, stress-busting hobby to a war of attrition with the elements. Once the mercury drops and the ground becomes covered in ice or snow, your usual run can turn from a comfortable plod to a low rent version of the Bambi on ice scene.
The ground becomes treacherous, you trust your footing less than a promise from a presidential election candidate and the slower you go, the colder you feel. The cold air can also hamper your breathing and in poor light you’ve got to contend with car drivers whose visibility can be significantly reduced.
The key is to stay warm, safe and in the upright position when these conditions strike. This guide should help you do all three.
It’s all about the base
If your pace is going to drop as a result of the wintry conditions you are likely to feel the cold more than if you were clipping along at your usual speed. Make sure you have a good base layer on under a running jacket that will wick the sweat away from your skin to stop it freezing on your body. Add a pair of running gloves and a hat so you reduce the heat loss from your extremities, too.
No, we don’t mean jack in the idea of running altogether. Screws can be a makeshift solution to turning an old pair of running shoes into some winter-proof footwear that will dig in to the slippery terrain and stop you going over like an old lady in the snow.
Head to your local DIY shop and pick up some screws of the right length, then screw them in in a even pattern to the sole of your trainers. The hex of the screw head will provide you with the grip you need to navigate those icy patches. If you want to go for a higher budget option, you could get yourself a set of Yaktrax to slip on over the soles.
Pick a safer route
If your local pavements aren’t high up on the list for your local authority to clear, you might want to seek out the places they have taken care of. Areas around schools could be cleared quickly to ensure safe entry for pupils and staff. Ice and slush are also more likely to have cleared from pavements on main roads, and the gritting lorries will have been out on those routes. Read this for more on Staying safe running after dark
Consider a mask
If the cold makes you cough and splutter when you run, a light mask could help. It will warm that chilly air up before you suck it in and help alleviate those cold-related breathing issues. Obviously, going down this route could make you look like a ninja or, worse, a criminal, so perhaps avoid running past a bank.
Dry your shoes out
When you get back in, don’t just kick off your running shoes and leave them until the next time. Sorry to sound like your mum. Grab a newspaper and stuff the pages into your trainers. They will suck up the water and help your shoes keep their shape. Do not put them in the oven or the tumble dryer. That could cause them to dry out of shape. And it would make you an idiot.
One more thing on shoes. Remember that the material that makes up the midsole of most shoes can get stiffer in cold weather, and you could feel a bit more pressure on the sole of your foot.
Run against the traffic
You might live somewhere where the pavements are too treacherous to run on or in the countryside where there is no pavement. In both cases, you have to use the road itself. Assuming you have you high-vis on and your eyes peeled, it is safer to run against the traffic. You can see what’s coming and make decisions in plenty of time about what action to take.