How to demystify running in winter? There are many things to consider, so let’s get started!

How to dress for winter running?

The difference of running in winter is that you have to dress warmer. In order to maximize warmth and reduce excessive sweating, a multi-layer system should be preferred for both the upper and the lower body. In addition, it can be interesting to wear a “buff” to cover your face to humidify the cold air outside and improve the efficiency of your breathing. Also, don’t forget to cover your hands and your head because they give off a lot of heat.

As for what shoes to wear, there are several options available. Depending on the pair of shoes you wear in the summer, it may be possible to keep the same pair but wear warmer socks. The latter is preferred when the weather is nice, and it is possible to run on asphalt. There are also trail shoes with a more slip resistant sole, which allows for better grip on snowy ground. Don’t forget, in snowy or even icy weather, it is possible to run with your regular running shoes by adding small crampons.

The importance of warming up

Warming up is even more important than usual, since the cold temperature tends to contract our muscles to try to warm us up. Therefore, it is recommended to run for 5 minutes at 30-50% of your maximum speed. Then, do ballistic movements (such as high knees, heels to buttocks, etc.) in order to get a greater range of motion to properly warm up your muscles and joints. Avoid static stretching since it requires you to stop completely. Therefore, it can cause a decrease in body temperature and increase the risk of injury. Here is a video of Francis Rolko, physiotherapist, demonstrating the ABCD method to warm up!

During your run

When you make the transition from summer to winter running, it is obvious that the running surface is not the same. Sometimes, it may be recommended to slightly decrease our running volume in order to acclimatize to this new mechanical load that the snow brings to your joints. Also, it is recommended to run with smaller steps to avoid running on your heels and increasing the risk of falling.

It is normally recommended to run at a pace of 170-180 steps per minute. There is a metronome application or songs that can help you keep the pace.

After your run

After getting back into the warmth, you can now do a little static stretching this time. Don’t forget to hydrate. Since it’s cold outside, you may feel like you’re sweating less, but you’re not!

Finally, analyze how you felt during your run:

  • Look at the temperature; were you too hot, too cold? Take note of this so you know how to dress better for your next run.
  • Did you feel any minor discomforts? If so, keep them in mind for your next run to see if they will recur.

The key to avoid running injuries

Quantifying the mechanical stress on the joints is the key to avoiding injury. If you increase your volume too quickly or your intensity too much, your body is no longer able to keep up. That’s when pain occurs. When you feel discomfort or a little pain, it decreases the ability to adapt to mechanical stress. Therefore, the pain increases more easily despite the fact that you are running for less time or even less quickly! 

If your pain does not improve or persists for more than a week, don’t hesitate to make an appointment at the clinic. An evaluation of your running pattern can be done in order to get you back on your feet as soon as possible. It is much easier to prevent than to cure!

Let’s compare the human body to a car. It is important to take care of it, because it is our daily means of transportation! Taking care of our body allows us to always surpass ourselves in the activities we love. No matter what they are!