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How to be a winter runner: Running tips from the experts


Cold, wet, dark: It’s difficult to motivate yourself to go running at this time of year. But this is when it’s particularly important to stick with it and continue to train. Regular training in the fresh air does not only create a good basis to really get started in the spring, but rather also strengthens your health and immune system. And that’s not all: the body fights against the cold with an increased pulse, which in turn increases energy consumption and thereby makes your training even more efficient. Nevertheless, we want you to run healthy and safely through the fall and winter. So we’ve gathered a few tips from our Freeletics fitness experts. Stick to these guidelines and cold and darkness won’t stand a chance against you this winter.

Dress appropriately

There is no such thing as bad weather, it’s called bad clothing. The most common mistake people make is that they often underestimate temperatures. If in doubt always go for the well-known “layer principle”. Begin with a functional base layer, cover that with a long sleeve shirt and on top of that a wind and waterproof jacket. The best thing is that should you become too warm, you can always remove any unnecessary pieces of clothing. Also make sure to cover your feet, hands and head. These body parts lose a relatively high amount of warmth. In principle, the following applies: You should feel chilly at the beginning of your run. As soon as your body heats up during running, you will have the ideal body temperature.

Pay attention to your breathing

The colder the air, the more your bronchial tubes, lungs and mucosa membrane are irritated. The best breathing technique is to inhale as much as possible through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This way the air has a longer journey to get to your lungs, is heated and moistened by the nasal mucosa while your airways are heated on the way back as they are connected to your mouth. This change in breathing, however, can result in a lot of stress for some runners. The consequence: stitches and shortness of breath. In this case, try to ease up the intensity of your exercises. Flat breathing is normally sufficient in order to supply yourself with oxygen. Additionally, a scarf in front of your mouth and nose may help to additionally warm up your breath slightly. For those with asthma – regardless of the temperatures – individual special rules apply, which is why they should always consult their doctor first.

Drink, drink and drink some more

Even if you feel less thirsty during fall and winter, your body still needs a lot of water whilst running. Particularly during longer runs, you should pay attention to a regular intake of liquid. Try running with a small hydration pack or keep a water bottle at a convenient spot. It’s also important to stay hydrated after your run. A warm tea or freshly squeezed juice is the perfect post-training refreshment.

Unwind without cooling down

What you do after your run is just as important as your preparation. You should unwind for a few minutes and then quickly get into a warm place and stretch. During the cold season, your muscles cool down very quickly so that any contraction residue may not be able to loosen quickly enough. The result is painful muscle tension and maybe even injuries if these are “torn apart” later. It is particularly dangerous if you give it your all at the end of training and then stop dead after this high stress.

Eat plenty fruit and vegetables

Support your immune system with a balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals. Any form of root vegetables, all types of cabbage and winter salads like lamb’s salad, chicory or radicchio should make a regular appearance on your plate. Winter fruit like tangerines, pomegranate and year-round fruit like pears and apples provide you with an extra portion of vitamin and make you particularly strong against the cold.

In general the following applies: Your health should always be your number one priority! If you have any pain whilst breathing, you find yourself freezing or develop a bad cough, stop training and return to a warm place.

One last tip: Do not just prepare yourself for cold temperatures, but also pay attention to other weather conditions that could make training difficult for you. For example, shoes with a good grip are recommended in order to protect you against black ice and slippery surfaces.