Survival Guide & Top Tips For Winter Running

An icy road
It can be tempting to stay indoors when the temperatures drop

Winter MAKES US WANT TO HIBERNATE. WE SHY AWAY FROM THE OUTSIDE- ITS COLD AND DIFFICULT TO GET MOTIVATED. HOWEVER It’s always good to get outside-fresh air is great for our mental and physical health!

When cold weather strikes, you need to be prepared for potential pitfalls like ice, snow, sleet and unpredictable running conditions. With the right preparation and gear, winter doesn’t have to be a daunting prospect.


    We all know that the majority of our heat is lost through our head.  When we are cold our bodies naturally try to keep the core warm; this means that our hands and feet don’t get as much blood and heat as usual and will be more vulnerable to the cold. So keep toasty with a hat, gloves and decent winter socks.LAYER, LAYER, LAYER!
    Follow the rule of 3 – ideally start with a breathable layer made of natural materials, which will wick away moisture as you sweat.  Cotton is a poor choice for a base layer.  It soaks up moisture and holds it there, the moisture then gets cold and decreases your body temperature.  On top of this should be a good insulating layer to keep you warm.  Complete the look with a light, waterproof and windproof jacket to protect you from the rain and cold.
Enjoying a winter run with a friend!

Darker nights, foggy days, lower light.  Wear bright and reflective clothing to ensure that you can be seen.  You can even try some LEDs or a head torch for added visibility. Try to run in well-lit areas and avoid main roads if you can.

If you are struggling to get going think back to other runs and the way you felt after going out.  Remember the buzz, the energy you have afterwards and use this as a chance to blow away those winter cobwebs.  Push through and get into the brisk winter air – you know you’ll feel great afterwards.  For more on this check out ultra runner Gemma Bragg’s tips at the bottom of the page.

In cold weather it takes us longer to warm up.  Therefore allow time for a slower and longer warm-up and stretch routine to avoid injuries.  You could even do part of this indoors to give you a head start before you hit the cold air.

In low temperatures your urge to quench your thirst is weaker, but it does not mean you are hydrated.  Keep topping up those fluids.

When it is icy think about the grip on your trainers. If you are training on a track then spikes are good, but not for the roads. You will need good gripped trainers for the road. Footwear plays a key part in injury prevention – so make sure you get the right footwear!

Man running in the mud
James Andrews enjoying a winter run @djave_runs

Temperatures fallen below that zero mark? Fighting a winter bug?  Know your limitations and stay safe out there to give yourself the best chance of getting through the season!  Alternative work-out ideas are:  indoor tabata – there are so many of these high-intensity, full body work-outs on YouTube, designed for your very own living room gym! Swimming – okay you’ll get wet hair and it’ll be chilly when you come out but that’s where the negatives stop. Swimming or pool running (running in the pool) is a great cross-training idea that will support your running. Go to the gym – running machines are the obvious choice, but you could do some strengthening exercises, or take a class.  You don’t always need to be a member to access the classes and you could always try a free trial.


Training outside in the winter can be tough; the dark, cold, windy and often wet nights, so I thought I would share a few ways to help keep motivated when all you want to do is come home from work, have a hot drink and curl up on the sofa.

I always say to myself that, ‘I never regret going out for a run’. However hard it may be to get out the door, you know that you never regret having gone out. The feeling you have when you’re having a hot shower and sitting down for dinner knowing you’ve been out there is pretty rewarding! You often find too that if you don’t go out when you have planned to then you spend the whole time thinking, ‘I should have gone out’ and don’t enjoy your evening or relax because of it!

Having goals – race goals, training goals whatever they might be. Having goals to keep us motivated and on track with our training can really help keep that focus through the winter months. Perhaps even have a picture of a race you are training for or a fitness goal; visualizing it can really help us too.

Join a club – training with a club during the winter months can really help us get out there on those dark, cold nights and help push us. There is safety in numbers too and always a good social aspect to a club. If you don’t want to join a club then planning to meet and run with a friend can be just the motivating factor you need to get those trainers on and get out there on the roads.

Have a treat/ reward for when you get home – just a little something!

Have your kit in the car or by the door. Coming back home from work and then going out again is often harder than if you can go straight from work, so have your kit in the car. Or if you are running from home, then have your kit ready by the door, so you don’t have the chance to settle into a warm home!

Get a routine going. If you have it set in your diary that Monday and Wednesday evenings for example are your training outside nights you are more likely to stick to it, as opposed to saying, ‘I am going to try and fit 2 runs in this week….’

Finally maybe try some mantras. What things can you say to yourself that will help you get out there on those dark winter nights? Remember that consistency is the key; the more consistent you are the more you will notice your fitness improving and the easier you will find it to get out that door!

Gemma Bragg running in the winter
Ultra Runner Gemma Bragg enjoying a winter run!

You can follow the lovely and talented Gemma on Twitter @gembragg.

If you want to get any of last season’s injuries checked before they flare up again, or are experiencing those early season niggles, book yourself in to see a Soft Tissue Therapist.  Click on contact us on this website, follow us on Facebook @reachsportsmassage, Twitter @reachsportsmass and Instagram @reachsportsmassage.

Happy running!