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Winter running guide

Do you want to try winter running?

Follow the advice of our ambassadors Sophia and Michael and enjoy the winter!

Snow-covered terrain and sub-zero temperatures. Can you still tie your shoes and go for a run? Obviously! We run about the same number of sessions per week and the same mileage regardless of the season, and we don't even think twice about the weather before we leave. Or, it's not entirely true: of course we think a lot about the weather, so we dress appropriately, but we do it without too many fuss and without thinking about ... well, let's stay home. But since we know that many normally limit themselves to gyms and treadmills in the winter, we thought we should put together our best tips for moving forward and continuing to love the sport, despite the cold air and slippery ground. Indeed despite everything ... let's say that the winter run is quite surprising. Go and find out for yourself!

1. How to cope with the temperature?

By far the most difficult aspect of winter running is deciding what to wear, and the simplest mistake to make is to dress too much and find yourself sweating like crazy after 1-2 kilometers. A basic rule of thumb is to add around 10-15 degrees Celsius / 50-60 ° F to the actual temperature and think about what you would wear for a walk. This can help you determine if you should wear shorts, thin pants, or insulated pants, what type of jacket is appropriate, and so on. If there is wind, you should expect it to be a little colder, while a faster pace and / or the sun will warm you more. In other words, if it's -5ºC / 23 ° F, think about what you would wear for a walk at 7-8ºC / 45-47 ° F. You would most likely wear a pair of pants, a long-sleeved base layer, and a windbreaker jacket, as well as a thin type of hat or headband and gloves. It would be perfect for your -5ºC / 23 ° F run as long as there isn't much wind.

And remember: having a little cold for the first 5-10 minutes is absolutely a must, if not, very soon you will be too hot. Also, if there is wind and you can choose to go headwind at the start or end, choose the start. You will be wet towards the end and therefore much more susceptible to getting very cold quickly.

2. Overlap

Dressing in thin layers is much preferable to a single, very thick garment. This way, you'll get better ventilation and moisture will be able to escape, preventing your clothes from getting soaked and you have hypothermia. With layers, you can also regulate the temperature much better when you are out, for example by unzipping your jacket a little but without exposing your bare chest. Using wool as a technical underwear directly on the skin will provide you with great comfort: warmth when needed, cooling when cooling is needed, and much less smelly clothes. On top of the base layer, a wind jacket works great most days (with varying thickness depending on the temperature, of course) and small accessories, like a neck buff or hat instead of a headband, can be used if it gets slightly colder but not cold enough for a third layer. Even the simple addition of thicker socks and gloves can work very well. Double pants are never needed unless it's very, very cold, but using windproof underwear is a great tip to protect your butt from the cold (a common problem for women). Putting a wool buff around your butt inside your pants is a personal trick we're happy to share.

3. Feet and hands

Wool socks and waterproof shoes are a combination worth following to keep your feet happy. As you start they will heat up quickly, so don't be afraid to feel a little cold at first. The same goes for your hands - they will get warm - but beware of the wind and rainfall situation. Strong wind will quickly cool your hands and they will get even colder if they get wet. The hardest time is when the temperature is just above freezing and it comes with rain, which will saturate your gloves. The best solution will obviously be a pair of water resistant gloves, but another alternative is to simply carry a spare pair of gloves in a plastic bag. Swap the wet ones for a dry pair of gloves halfway through, you'll feel like heaven! Also, remember that mittens tend to keep your fingers warmer than traditional gloves. We like to wear thin gloves at around 7-8ºC / 45-47 ° F and switch to thicker ones when the temperature approaches -10ºC / 14 ° F.

4. What about your phone?

Unless your phone has a brand new battery, chances are it will spend some time in the cold for a long time. Phones are obviously good companions to carry from a safety standpoint, especially if you're running alone, but instead of going out and buying a new one, consider replacing the battery or wrapping it tightly when running. The smartest move is to keep it as close to your body as possible, rather than in an outside pocket, and if your clothes don't offer a good place to store it, you could grab a waist or arm band and put it under your clothes. It is highly recommended that you think about it beforehand so you won't find yourself without a working phone at a time when you really need it.

5. Shoes

Grip, warmth and water resistance. These are probably the three most important characteristics of proper winter running shoes. Dynamic spikes are highly recommended for any icy and snowy conditions, and we dare to say that once you've tried a pair, you won't run without it until spring. With pegs, you can gallop across a frozen lake without hesitation or having to worry about slipping a little - they are truly amazing. And even if your feet will get warm remember that a shoe that is a little warmer is pleasant, however waterproof shoes would be more important than warm shoes on our list. The name of the game is staying dry, because once wet (and especially when paired with non-wool socks) it won't be fun. As Icebug ambassadors, we can't call ourselves completely impartial, but we couldn't really recommend their shoes more, particularly for winter conditions. Foolproof grip is, after all, their no. 1. Our favorite models include the Pytho BUGrip, a versatile low drop model that excels on the trails, the Oribi BUGgrip, which is light and fast, and the NewRun BUGrip, which is more geared towards running on winter roads.

6. Intensity on really cold days

You can continue doing your speed session without much consideration of the weather down to around -10ºC / 14 ° F. In these parts, it might be wise to take it back a notch, as you risk putting a little too much strain on your airways when you push the pace in such cold weather. If you "just" have a hard time going slow, keep an eye on the forecast and enter your ranges when you see a warmer window.

7. Snacks and sports drinks

Do your energy bars or balls get mushy and too soft in your vest or backpack during the summer? Well, in winter this doesn't happen! Running on an empty stomach can make you feel even colder than "you should", so it's definitely advisable to bring a snack for your longer runs - and energy balls and bars hold up much better in cold temperatures. If you want to check out these Run Far Energy Balls, our favorite mid-run snack from October to April? (
Also, don't forget that you can bring a hot sports drink! If you pour it into a softflask, it won't stay hot for too long (but it will take a while for it to freeze) and you can also consider bringing a small, lightweight thermos.

8. Before and after the race

Before going out, it's good to be prepared and warm. Going out when you are already cold is not very pleasant, so try sipping a cup of hot coffee or tea before tying your shoes. Also, make sure you have something hot to eat when you get back and get out of the shower. Whether you want to quickly cook some steaming oatmeal or reheat leftover soup, eating something hot right after is highly recommended. (But take a shower first: sweat and wet clothes will cool you down very quickly and you don't have to put yourself at any risk of getting sick). Having a mouthwatering, hot delicacy waiting for you after your run also acts as a motivator to complete your business.

9. Headlamps and reflectors

If you live in​​ a place where it is very cold in winter, you could very well live in a place where it is very dark in winter. And unless you can find time at noon to run, you will most likely run before sunrise and after sunset. This means that you will need a suitable headlamp to accompany you on your run, as well as reflectors so that other people (especially those who drive cars) can see you. For reflectors, we like to wear a thin vest, and if we're going to spend most of the ride on car-traffic streets, we'll also make sure the pants and shoes already have reflective materials, or put snap-on reflectors around our ankles. It's definitely good advice to have something on your lower body, as it will move and draw attention further. For the headlamp, we recommend one with a rechargeable battery and preferably made for sports. Because you move fast enough, a simple camping headlamp won't work - you won't have enough light in front of you to make sure you're able to drive safely (even more important in technical terrain, of course, but roads also need higher brightness).

10. Forget the rhythm

And last but not least, a note on the rhythm. Unless you are a pro or someone else with a very strict training plan, we recommend that you do not look at your pace in any way. If you care about the effect of training and don't want to let go completely, focus on the effort level instead. Running on snow obviously requires a lot more energy than on flat, dry terrain and thus will ensure that your effort remains high, even if the pace may show something entirely different. Also, aiming for too fast a pace with a less-than-ideal grip underfoot certainly poses a risk of injury and injury. In other words: wear proper footwear and let the effort stay where you want without focusing too much on what the rhythm says.

That's it - have fun running in the winter!

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