The 5 best tips for running in the cold

To be honest: in the bad weather you don’t exactly have a run. Actually, you had made up your mind to consistently do your running training, but now the cold and drizzling rain are putting a wrench in your sports plans? In fact, the outdoor run in autumn is one of the sports events that most people like to skip. Unfortunately.

It is now worthwhile to lace up your running shoes. Because running is never as useful as in the cooler season. Especially since jogging is still one of the safest sports during the Corona period, more about that here. So go ahead, we’ll refute your bad weather excuses and get you off the sofa. And by the way: With this training plan, even as a beginner, you can do your first 30-minute run.

So, now first to the most important questions when running in autumn and winter:

1. Doesn’t the cold air harm the lungs?

It’s a persistent myth that has been around for years – but it’s still not true. “The biathletes show how it is: Even in the deepest freezing temperatures, they move in the anaerobic range, with an extremely high breathing rate,” says running coach Sonja von Opel, author of the book “Healthy running: a lifetime”. She explains: “The mouth, throat and lungs are able to preheat the ice-cold air sufficiently so that nothing happens to the bronchial tubes.” It is absolutely harmless to run outside in autumn and winter up to minus 10 degrees.

However, you should adapt your pace to the cold weather and reduce it accordingly. Breathing should also be different when running in the cold: If you breathe through your nose, the incoming air is warmed by 10 degrees and more until it reaches the lungs. In addition, you can also pull a scarf or cloth over your cheeks, so that the inhaled air no longer feels ice cold. Attention: We will clarify here whether you should exercise despite having a cold.

2. Is jogging in the dark dangerous?

Granted, the lack of light is a problem. But not an obstacle. Make use of the daylight as often as possible when running in autumn and winter. Even after 30 minutes outdoors, the body produces more vitamin D, which promotes the production of the happiness hormone serotonin – ciao, winter blues!

If that is not possible, find a lighted (more urban) route, walk on streets with little traffic and on sidewalks instead of in the park. A small downer for all music freaks: Unfortunately, music over headphones is absolutely taboo in the dark. Because with loud music in your ear you are very distracted, you don’t hear what’s going on around you, you perceive dangers and dangerous situations too late.

Wearing a headlamp, like this one here, may take some getting used to, but it has two decisive advantages: It illuminates the darkest path perfectly, which ensures more surefootedness. You are also easily visible to others. Wear light-colored, reflective or fluorescent clothing with reflectors that is visible from a distance, which increases your visibility to up to 150 meters. Alternatively, special straps around the arm and / or leg can help. Reflectors are good for this, flashing diodes are even better.

3. Do you need warm running clothes?

You don’t need one super warm part, but many thin ones. Layer one layer on top of the other like an onion. At best, they complement each other sensibly, namely like this: You wear a membrane over your running underwear. “A second layer is worthwhile as soon as moisture comes into play: one layer to soak up sweat, the other protects against external influences such as rain and wind,” says Opel running expert.

When it gets really icy, a third and warming layer is in order. But please don’t get them out of the closet too quickly: before you start walking, you should rather have the feeling that you are dressed too cool. An insulated jacket like this one from GORE Wear is ideal for your running training in the cold. So you are breathable and protected from wind and rain at the same time.

Watch out: If you are cozy and warm right from the start, you will sweat too much during the run. Because no matter how cold it is, the running motion increases the core body temperature and you will sweat. You lose too much sweat if you start running in several thick fleece layers at temperatures around zero degrees.

What can never be well protected, however, are the head and neck, because this is where the body loses most of its heat. In addition to a hat and scarf, gloves and thicker functional socks are a sensible choice for running in autumn and winter. Because with ice-cold hands and feet a feeling of numbness can arise, which becomes a really painful affair when thawing.

4. Don’t slip despite running and wet, how does it work?

All you have to do is adapt your run to the external conditions. In other words: be slower than usual. “An important rule for the running style is: The shorter the contact with the ground, the lower the probability of slipping,” explains Opel running coach. To do this, reduce the rolling movement and take small, triple steps that you participate in your foot comes up from above and pushes you back up again. With this measure you can even run safely over freshly fallen snow and can also avoid small areas of ice more flexibly.

Incidentally, the irregular surface and the increased risk of slipping are not only stupid, but actually a fine thing: mastering both requires greater concentration in order not to slip. And that’s exactly what proves to be an advantage: Your sense of balance is trained on the side, the muscles are stressed differently and challenged.

5. What helps if you don’t feel like running in this weather?

Okay, we understand that – and to be honest: who doesn’t feel like that every now and then? The trick is: don’t stress yourself and mentally take the pressure off. Autumn and winter are not the times of the best times, but just the right thing to cut back on the running workload and relax while doing kilometers.

Because this is how you lay the foundations for running for the next year by developing the basic endurance. And this is exactly the basis for every running training and lets you start the new running season with good aerobic performance. In addition, with regular runs in autumn and winter you save yourself the much harder re-entry after a long break in spring. You can find our 7 best tips against the autumn blues here.

This is how you motivate yourself to run in autumn

And how do you pull yourself up now? Just break through the usual running routines, explore other routes and discover new things. Or take part in a casual winter run where you just enjoy the atmosphere. So the fun is not lost and you still do something for your fitness.

And what if the mean weaker self doesn’t want to let you down from the sofa after all? “A specific goal that is worth sticking to for, helps enormously in outsmarting him,” says von Opel. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the best time in the 10-kilometer run, a half marathon in the next (hopefully no longer corona-polluted) year, or rocking run the first marathon of your life – everything that inspires makes it easier!

Running in fall and winter is more challenging than running in spring but it is worth it. With our tips you can run relaxed through the dark season and bring joy into the gray everyday life with the additional endorphins.

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