One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of running is being able to adapt to the environment. In some countries you go for a run in the morning on a warm, sunny weather and in the afternoon or evening you can run in pouring rain.
Personally I see this as an element of personal development. To a certain extent life is predictable, however we have those challenging moments. That’s the run on a sunny day and then in a storm.
Why run outdoors in winter? Well, I’ll give you 3 good reasons:
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1. It’s challenging
Running outdoors in winter challenges you at all levels, physical, mental, emotional. Of course it depends on what winter we are talking about. British winter is damp and not very cold while in other countries you run in knee high snow.
Nonetheless it’s not running on a sunny, warm weather and that is a challenge to constantly adapt your body and mind.
It becomes more than just running for fitness, health and weight loss, it becomes a way for you to grow as an individual.
2. Faster and stronger running
Nothing compares with going through winter training outdoors. Whether you just run or take your whole training outdoors, in any season, it’s more difficult than indoors. And if it’s winter it’s twice as difficult!
You will take your your speed and running strength, and your whole fitness to the next level.
3. Save money
Why would you pay to go in a gym to run on a treadmill when you have the outdoors at literally at your doorstep?
Save yourself money and probably even time running outdoors and, why, not, taking your whole training outdoors
. It’s as challenging if not even more challenging if you know what you are doing.
You get stronger and fitter outdoors. Plus you get all the benefits of a strong, resilient mind and all the personal development that comes with it.
How to run in winter
Here’s the tricky part. If you really want to develop your winter running you will need a little bit more than just a pair of shoes. Those too of course, but you will need to consider:
1. Running technique
There are many elements of outdoors running technique, on mud, wet ground or snow in winter. However, I’d say that the biggest mistake people make which leads to injuries
is a long stride thinking they run faster and further with a long stride.
Think about penguins. They don’t walk like us, they have adapted to walking on snow and ice. If you pay close attention they keep their feet underneath their bodies.
We, humans, don’t. Our foot steps in front of our bodies, heel striking, and we “leave” the foot behind the body, followed by a push off.
Can you see how that can leads to falling on slippery surfaces? First heel striking and then push off.
Thus there are 3 main things to think about:
– Shorter strides. Keep your feet underneath your body. It will feel weird at the beginning.
– Mid foot strike. If you shorten your strides this should happen by itself.
– Pull your foot up rather then push off.
Think of the right shoes for you
and for the weather as well as the type of terrain your will run on.
For example, if winter means rain rather than snow and you run on the pavement you will probably not go for off road shoes. They will wear out very fast. If it’s wet and you run off road, then you think about shoes with proper grip.
On snow, ice and ice under the snow. I run on all versions!
I ran with regular running shoes, off road shoes and minimalist shoes (Vibram Fivefingers). I’ve been running on snow in winter for years now. Many times on ice hidden under the snow.
I have found running in off road shoes difficult as I could not feel anything under my feet and had little control. It felt like running on platforms, literally.
When I tried Vibram I found the control I needed. Toes and feet get really cold but the control I had on ice was amazing. Still challenging but had more control.
Running on snow is like driving a car. The more experienced you get the easier if becomes. And your running form will adjust to the environment, just like the penguins.
That being said, I don’t actually recommend you run on snow, particularly on pavement covered with snow.
You know you will warm up. However if it’s -15 degrees Celsius you can’t just step out there in shorts and tshirt. Well, you could, of course you could if you were used to the temperature.
If not, have layers you can take off if needed. Don’t wait to get very sweaty and don’t stay wet.
One last thing – Prepare for the unexpected, particularly on muddy terrain or terrain covered in snow.
That’s it, just to give you an idea of how to prepare for running outdoors in winter. There are many things to consider but just begin with these.
Read more about Expert Alexandra Merisoiu and begin your journey outdoors with her men and women workout plans.
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