Winter training running essentials
Running kit to see you through the winter
With so much technical running kit now on the market, the old adage of ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes’ rings true. Dressing sensibly and seasonally can make those winter runs feel easier and can even reduce your injury risk. Check out these top training essentials to help you stay warm and safe during the winter months.
A good waterproof jacket is definitely a winter must-have. Not only will it protect you from the rain, it will also help to shield you from the cold, wind and snow. Although they can be pricey, it’s best to opt for a jacket with taped seams if you can as this will offer full waterproof protection and is certainly a worthwhile investment.
As the temperature begins to drop it’s imperative to keep your muscles warm if you want them to work optimally and to avoid injury. As a large volume of your blood is re-directed to the working muscles as you run, your legs don’t lose as much heat as your upper body and core, so thinner tights or three-quarter length versions are suitable for cooler autumnal days. However, when the temperature starts to creep towards freezing, full length tights are the way forward.
Cyclists have long been using arm warmers and when they first made their way into the running world I was sceptical, thinking that they were merely just a superfluous fashion item. However, I am since a complete convert! These sleeves keep your arms wonderfully warm whilst still providing sufficient ventilation to your armpits.
If you want to protect your head and ears from the winter wind chill then a functional hat is a must-have accessory. Opt for a hat that fits snuggly over your head and one that is made of wickable fabric and provides adequate ventilation. For those who find that a full hat is a little too much then a headband is the ideal alternative. A headband will still protect your ears from the wind chill but enables your head to ‘breathe’ and has the added benefit of preventing any sweat from running into your eyes.
It’s not just about staying warm during the winter months, staying safe is equally as important. As the dark evenings set in it is definitely worthwhile investing in some high viz kit, so that you can be seen by drivers and other road users. However for those runners who aren’t keen on bright colours you don’t necessarily have to dress as if you are going to a neon rave! A lot of technical winter kit now includes reflective panels and prints.
It’s a classic winter scenario for a runner; your hands become so cold and numb that you become incapable of anything involving the slightest bit of dexterity for a good 10 minutes post run! Cold hands can very quickly make a run feel miserable so a good pair of gloves are essential. Opt for a pair that are breathable and are made from wickable fabric.
The most effective way to trap heat and to stay warm whilst facing the winter elements is to layer up. A base layer forms the bottom layer and should wick moisture from your skin to prevent you from feeling the chill. Compression type tops make ideal base layers as they are lightweight and fit snuggly.
If you live in an area with limited street lighting or you fancy venturing off-road once daylight has diminished then a lightweight head torch should be added to your wish list. There are a wide range of head torches currently on the market but opt for one that can be worn comfortably, has ample battery life, and provides good peripheral light too.
Written by Louise Damen
Louise is a two-time England Cross Country Champion and a former European XC Trials winner. She has also represented GB at various international events and her marathon PB is 2:30:00.