5 tips for safe winter running


Following on from our recent article on 6 tips for safe autumn running, it’s now time to look at how to keep safe when running in the winter. Follow these tips and we reckon you’ll stand a better chance of keeping your running going even when the weather is at its worst!

1. Look after your sensitive bits

Cold temperatures and wet conditions can result in uncomfortable chafing in areas you would really rather didn’t chafe. Nipples can be protected with plasters or microporous tape (available from all good chemists) and your moving parts may benefit from a coating of running lubricant (available from all good running shops).

2. Explore with caution

Finding new places to run is one of the great joys of running and we would never want to discourage you from exploring. However, it is worth noting that dark, wet or cold conditions might not be the best conditions in which to try a new route through the woods or up a mountain!

Consider exploring with a friend, or during daylight hours.

Consider exploring new routes in daylight hours only

3. Keep on top of niggles

Colder weather can mean more miles with cold muscles. This could potentially put you at risk of a minor niggle developing into a more problematic injury.

To avoid this, ease into your runs so your muscles have a chance to warm up before you run hard. Yes, your average pace will dip on Strava, but your legs will thank you for it.

Once back home, take care of any aches or sore points with rest or massage to nip any problems in the bud.

4. Illuminate and be illuminated

The next tip is straight out of our tips for autumn running, because they apply just as much in winter, if not more so!

Dark conditions make it tricky to keep an eye out for potential trip hazards or anything else that might cause you problems. There are a few options to deal with this:

  • Head torches – which are convenient to carry (if lightweight) and light up whatever you’re looking at.
  • Chest torches – which are hands free and mean you can move your head without moving the light.
  • Hand torches – which offer the greatest flexibility in what you’re lighting up, but can be awkward to run with while carrying.

Many runners like to run with two torches (eg. head and chest) as it offers more illumination. It also means you’ll have a back up should the batteries go flat in one of your torches.

As well as being able to see where you’re going, it can be beneficial if other people can see you. If you’re running solely on well-lit pavements, then this isn’t so important, but it is well worth making sure people driving vehicles can see you if you have to venture onto the roads in the dark. Yes, it’s up to them to drive safely, but that doesn’t always happen, and accidents can occur.

In twilight, fluorescent fabrics work well, but they’re no benefit in complete dark. Once the sun has gone, you need reflective fabrics. If you don’t have any, wearing white clothes can work well, too. Your torch will also be helpful, of course.

Person running on a winters day with frost on the ground
Familiar routes can look very different in the winter

5. Wear the right kit

Winter is perfect for runners who like to shop! For many runners, the essential kit list includes:

  • Lightweight, waterproof, breathable jacket.
  • Leggings.
  • Gloves.
  • Hat.
  • Trail shoes, or even shoes with ice spikes!

This isn’t just a matter of comfort, but safety too, as proper kit reduces the risk of hypothermia – especially if you’re heading way off road on a long trail run.

The author, about to head out on a rainy long run

Have fun in the sun dark, cold, winter

The most important tip is remember to keep having fun. If you enjoy your running, you’re more likely to stick with it – even when the weather is far from perfect.

That said, there’s no shame in admitting that sometimes running in winter is not the most fun thing to be doing. In that case, feel free to experiment with cross training or even taking a rest. You’re in charge of your running, so do what feels right for you!

If you do get out and run though, you may just find that winter running offers a different challenge that can be exciting.

Finally, the above suggestions are just a few tips that we think may help. If you’ve got your own – or have questions about winter running that aren’t answered here – jump into the Facebook Chat Group and keep the conversation going with the wonderful Lonely Goat Running Club community!

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