Many of us pack up our sneakers for hibernation the moment the weather dips. We come up with any excuse to stay toasty inside. But, the weather outside shouldn’t necessarily be an excuse to miss a run. In fact, there are some major benefits to bundling up and getting some crisp air.
Running in the cold weather can help your endurance. Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist, sports performance coach, and author of The Marathon Method, says that the colder the weather, the less stress on the body which makes it a lot easier to run.
With many great reasons to get outside, we wanted to get some advice on the best (safest!) ways to maximize our winter runs. Becs Gentry, an accomplished distance runner and Peloton Tread coach, runs as a way to explore the world—from adventurous trails, tropical beaches, and exotic volcanoes, to sub-3:00 marathons and demanding ultramarathons.
We sat down with Gentry to get some tips to make the most of our cold-weather runs.
RUNNING IN WINTER TIPS AND TOOLS
Becs, how long have you been running? I have been solidly working on improving my running for the past 7 years.
What do you love about lacing up? The opportunity to spend some time with myself.
What do you run in when it’s cold (really cold…and snowing!)? If the ground isn’t icy, I will still run outside, and I will definitely be layered up! Wearing multiple layers is the key to success in this situation because when you initially step out to start the run, you’re more susceptible to feeling the lower temperatures due to your body not being fully warmed up. As you run, your body temperature rises. You warm up, and the layers may want to come off. I always start out with gloves and a headband or hat, and a layer with zip pockets that I can stuff these items into if I need to shed.
What are some tips to have a successful run when our muscles may be a little stiffer in the cold? You must reflect the cooler temperatures in your warm-up times to alleviate higher risk of injury. Our bodies take a little longer to be ready to work when the air temperature is cold, so spend a few extra minutes inside getting your blood pumping and your muscles warm.
Is there anything we should be mindful of (other than ice!)? All types of ice—the invisible black ice is guaranteed to skyrocket your heart rate at least once during winter running! The other element to watch out for is cold…cold air hitting your chest and lungs. The initial few runs out there tend to give runners a cough when they finish the run as gasping in cold air has this effect on the warm respiratory system. As tempting as it is when we begin to warm up, I advise not to unzip too low in the chest area to cool down as it really can result in a nasty cough.
What are the best ways to warm up our body? Foam-rolling and dynamic warm-up drills—we have 5 and 10 min. pre-run warm-up classes on the Peloton App and Tread+ that will help to prepare you for both indoor and outdoor running. Remember, the aim is to elevate your heart rate, get the blood pumping through the body, and ensure you feel more limber and fluid in your movements.
What is your advice for people that may be intimated to run in the cold? I like to remind people that you’ll be a great deal warmer running in the cold than walking. So, if you’re not afraid to walk out there, you’ll be great at running. Start with a short amount of time, wear those layers; and, if it’s a sunny day, run in that pretty winter light.
Can we start running in the cold even if we never have been a runner? Absolutely. There is no wrong time to start running. If you feel positive, strong, and ready to get out there, do all you can to support yourself; i.e. wear the right kit and run within your capabilities. With the shorter daylight hours, it’s an actual fact that humans tend to become more inclined to stay indoors and move less, so it’s a fabulous time to push yourself to stay more active.
Some people may not ever want to venture in the cold (I get it), so what about your favorite tips for running on a tread? I understand that. My mum is one of those people! So, on the Tread, remember to add a small incline (0.5 to 1 percent) to your workout to simulate air resistance outside. Don’t use the belt as a method for moving faster than you’re capable. If you know your outside running pace, work to that on the tread. And lastly, enjoy a variety of workout types on the tread such as intervals, endurance, and recovery rather than just hopping on, sticking to one pace, and staying comfortable.
How do you motivate yourself when you really don’t want to work out (especially when you’re cozy at home)? I know without a doubt that I will feel so much better once I have sweat. If I know I am going to be inside all day working or have been doing that, the fresh air is like a jolt of energy to my body and mind. Movement invigorates me, and always puts me in a great place.
(photo credit: Shutterstock)