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Tips for running through winter

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

After sweating through a hot Sydney summer, the slightly cooler weather we have had recently has been nice so far. But it won’t be long until the cold mornings make staying in bed seem like a more appealing option than getting up for a run. Despite that, I actually find it much easier to train for events in winter and spring, than those in early autumn.

Here are my tips for training in winter:

Get some winter running clothes: if you don’t already have them, a few tops with long sleeves, hats and gloves can make a big difference in keeping you warm. I often only have the gloves on for the first few kilometres, but even then it makes me a lot warmer while I’m getting going.

Invest in a head torch: if there are some dark sections in your running routes, a head torch can stop you from tripping, help you see your surroundings and help bikes, dogs and other runners see you coming. If you don’t like wearing something on your head, try a hand held torch. If you are crossing roads, wear light coloured clothes and get some reflective gear to make you more visible to cars.

Stick to places with lights: if you are like me, and skip the rule above about the torch, try to stay in well-lit areas until the sun comes up (or after it goes down), especially if there are not likely to be other people around.

Arrange to meet someone: this applies to so many running situations, but it’s always worth mentioning. In this case, when it’s June, and it’s cold, and your bed is cosy, you are much more likely to get up for your run when someone is waiting for you.

Run at lunch: if you have the option to run at lunch, it might give you the opportunity to do your training when it’s not cold and dark. This can require a bit of work flexibility, but it’s a good time of the day to make use of if you can – especially in winter when it’s not pushing 40 degrees!

If there is rain around, don’t procrastinate: one of the hardest things to do when you have a training run planned, is leave the comfort of your house when it’s pouring rain. If you are already running and it starts to rain, that’s not as bad, but it can be very challenging to get out the door when it’s already coming down. The monsoon weekend of June 2016, when the below run took place, saw us confined to the house for most of Sunday. It was beyond tempting to put on the heater and a movie, but my “needed-to-be-broken” marathon PB didn’t care that it was raining. The moment the rain stopped enough that it was bearable to go outside, we did our run. It was dark and cold and I feel over in a massive puddle, but we got it done.

If you have developed or are building a consistent running schedule, you want to avoid missing training runs. If rain is predicted, and you have a bit of time when it’s dry, don’t put it off. There are a few times I have planned to run intervals in the evening when the forecast looked a bit grey, so went out for a steady run in the morning instead. If you are at home waiting for a break in the weather, be dressed and ready to go so you don’t miss your moment.

Be glad we don’t live in the northern hemisphere – it might get a bit cold here, but I’m not sure I could handle running in snow!

Me running on a dark evening
Running at night can mean finding routes with lots of street lights

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