The seasons in the UK can change very quickly. One day there is bright sunshine, the next day the temperature has dipped below freezing and the route is dusted with snow and frost. Sports coach Richard Mallett believes that with the right mindset, winter trail running can be highly enjoyable and rewarding.
Choose Shoes Carefully
If planning to run on snow or ice, always choose shoes carefully to make sure they are suitable. This can mean opting for shoes with aggressive lugs, spikes, or tips. An alternative option is to purchase running crampons. These fit over existing flexible-soled shoes and are useful on low-level trails.
After choosing the best shoes, it can be worth opting for ankle gaiters and waterproof socks. On short runs, thick woollen socks will be fine, but on longer runs, waterproof socks will better protect the feet from the cold.
Choose Appropriate Clothing
Layering clothing is one of the best ways to stay warm in the winter months. A popular choice is to wear three layers, made up of a thermal base layer to move moisture away from the body, a fleece mid layer for insulation, and a wind or waterproof layer designed to protect the body from windchill.
Wearing a hat whilst trail running in the winter will help to conserve heat. If runners find a hat too stuffy or uncomfortable, a suitable alternative is to wear a headband that protects the ears from harsh winter winds.
Wear windproof gloves to stave off the windchill and carry a pair of warm mitts for emergencies. If the planned route is very hands-on, or heavy rain or snow is on the forecast, carry extra gloves just in case as wet gloves lead to very cold hands.
Warm Up Before Running
As with any exercise, warming up is important. Before running in the cold, it is important to move around whilst inside just enough to get the blood flowing without breaking into a sweat. Activities such as running up and down stairs, using a jump rose, or doing a few yoga poses can help to achieve this.
Warm Up After Running
The body’s core temperature will begin to drop as soon as the run is over. To avoid catching a chill, changing clothes as quickly as possible after a winter run is important. Getting out of damp clothing such as sports bras quickly, putting a warm beanie over wet hair, and drinking a warm drink or soup is a great way to warm up.