Keeping to your running routine is a challenge at any time of year. Finding the energy to get up out of bed at dawn or go for a jog after work takes dedication – which may be in short supply more often that we’d like.
Still, one way to make running a little easier is to wear comfortable clothes and gear. This is especially true in winter, helping to maintain a pleasant temperature and prevent overheating.
If you’re keen to stay in shape through the colder months, take a look at our clothing rules for winter running for the advice you need …
Layer Up, Strip Down
Don’t just head out into the cold wearing a bulky hooded top with nothing underneath. Why?
Well, as you get into your rhythm, you’ll start to warm up – and if you feel too hot, you’ll want to pull that heavy thing off. Unless you love jogging topless, this is unlikely to be the best move.
Wear a base layer (ideally, a wicking thermal, with long sleeves), a T-shirt, and a zip-front hoody. As you heat up, you’ll be able to take that outer shell off, and then the T-shirt, leaving yourself with a base layer.
Be sure to buy your workout gear in fairly loose sizes, so you can remove tops easily and quickly.
Be Seen at All Times
Unless you’re running between daylight hours, chances are you’ll be out there in the dark during winter. Most of us find time to run before and after work, putting you into a slightly more dangerous situation.
When you’re running along roads, down country lanes, and in the city, you have to stay visible. It only takes one driver to miss you as you’re crossing the street to cause an accident.
Wear a high-visibility vest over your top, illuminated armbands, or strobing LED lights that clip to your clothes.
Be Willing to Change Straight Away
After your run, be sure to take your sweaty clothes off right away. Leaving your running gear on can leave you vulnerable to catching a chill, and make you colder as your body starts to sweat to cool you down.
Don’t Forget your Hands
Make sure you wear gloves. It’s easy to focus on keeping your torso and legs warm, but your hands are still just as vulnerable to the cold when you’re running.
Wear thin gloves which are resistant to the wind and rain. Ideally, they will be small enough to roll-up into your pockets if need be. Your gloves should also be fine enough to let you handle drinks and eat snacks without dropping them.
You may also want to put your gloves into a waterproof backpack, as with any snacks or drinks.
Spray your Sneakers Dry
Waterproofing your sneakers will help your feet stay dry and comfortable when running on wet days. We all know the frustration of tramping through a puddle and having to cope with damp socks the rest of your run.
Invest in a waterproofing spray, and treat your sneakers every couple of weeks.
Get a decent wardrobe of running clothes and accessories together for winter, and you’ll likely find your motivation staying at a high level – it’s easier to get yourself out there when you know you’ll stay comfortable.
While some of us love to get outdoors during winter, snuggling under scarves and gloves, others retreat inside instead.
There’s no denying that going for a run at dawn takes a little more willpower in winter than it does in warmer months, and hiking endless trails is certainly tougher. But there’s no reason to let winter put you off the outdoors activities you love.
In fact, it might even do you the world of good: research shows that exposure to cold weather offers various health benefits. Let’s take a closer look …
Cold Could Be Key to a Speedier Metabolism
Being outside in cold weather gives you a faster metabolism. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s complicated. You may not be able to burn off those Christmas treats by simply standing in your back yard for 10 minutes, or adopt an all-chocolate diet because you ice-skate for an hour a day.
Still, while cold weather’s not a cure for storing fat, it has been shown to increase the speed of your metabolism. The reason? It activates the body’s ‘brown’ fat, which then generates heat through burning calories.
So, you can burn more calories by spending time outdoors, but be careful not to over-expose yourself to low temperatures. A hike on a snowy trail, building a snowman, or going for a run in chilly weather can lead to positive effects.
Your Heart will Get Stronger
If you have a heart condition or any other cardiovascular issues, prolonged exposure to the cold can be a danger, due to the extra effort your heart makes in lower temperatures. The additional stress of pumping blood around the body should be avoided for certain people.
However, for those in good health, regular exercise in cold weather can make the heart even stronger. This may help it cope with tougher workouts as you increase your distance run or weight lifted.
Combat Low Moods and Stress
While plenty of us love winter, Christmas, and everything the season brings, others struggle.
This is understandable. Low temperatures, rainfall (increasing flood risks in certain areas), strong winds (potentially damaging properties), and the financial demands of Christmas can all get too much for even the jolliest person.
Getting outside for a run, a walk, a hike, a bike ride, a spot of skiing, or even just playing in the snow with your kids or pets can release much-needed endorphins. These are the body’s feel-good chemicals, and even just a little exercise will lift your mood.
Exercise is often recommended for people struggling with stress and depression, so give it a try if you’re facing difficulties.
Exercising outdoors is good for you throughout the year, but getting out in the fresh air during winter might just be better for you than you imagine. Consider taking up a new sport, get into hiking to explore your nearest beauty-sports, or just spend time playing outside with the family.
It’s very easy to stay on the couch in the colder months, watching movies and snacking, but this isn’t ideal for your health. Even the smallest, briefest activity can help your body stay in good condition during winter. Give it a go – you may just love it.
Booked your first ski vacation?
You may well feel daunted by the prospect of heading up into the mountains, surrounded by people who have more experience skiing than you.
You shouldn’t let this overwhelm you, though. Everyone is a beginner at one time or another. Your first ski vacation should be an unforgettable experience you’ll want to repeat again and again.
There are certain things you should do on your first skiing trip to make it all it can be – let’s take a look …
Don’t be Afraid to Actually Ski
Some people might like the idea of a skiing vacation, but feel too intimidated or afraid to actually ski.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with this. You can absolutely spend time relaxing at the lodge, walking through the beautiful surroundings, maybe even head down to the local town.
However, if you go all that way and let fear keep you off those skis, you may regret it. Consider taking lessons with an instructor, and let a trusted friend or family-member help you – you may just be surprised by how much you like it.
In some resorts, you may be able to hire a pair of snowshoes and go exploring.
This is a terrific way to explore your alpine environment, get some exercise, and do something a little different.
Snowshoeing takes some getting used to, and can leave you feeling tired faster than you expect, but it’s an experience everyone visiting a ski resort should try.
Step onto a Snowboard Instead
You may be able to try snowboarding at your alpine resort. If you get the chance to, do it!
This is a totally different discipline to skiing. First of all, you have no poles to help, and need a strong sense of balance to stay upright. You’ll also develop your core control as you twist and turn to guide yourself along the slopes.
Without doubt, snowboarding is one of the coolest of all winter sports, and can add a faster, more exhilarating dimension to your first ski vacation. If you’ve never tried it before, take snowboarding lessons and invest in decent gear.
Let Yourself be Pampered
Had enough skiing and/or snowboarding? It’s time to relax at the lodge and enjoy a taste of luxury.
Quality resorts provide spa treatments for their guests, ranging from head-massages and pedicures to more exotic treats, such as hot-stone massages.
This can help you relax and unwind, but also ensures your body gets a little care after being out in the cold for hours on end. You may prefer this if you find yourself falling or picking up more bumps and scrapes than you would like.
Strap on your Skates
Ice skating is available at various ski resorts, and allows you to get away from the mountains for a while. If this is your first time, it’s a fun new skill to learn (along with skiing and snowboarding), and is a great way to meet new people.
No matter which ski resort you head to, don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the alpine environment or the range of activities on offer. Throw yourself into the atmosphere, pack quality accessories and equipment to keep yourself safe, and remember to have a blast!
Mountain climbing carries a certain degree of risk in even the warmest months, but this increases significantly in winter. It’s vital to plan ahead and exercise considerable caution on sites posing no obvious danger.
Heavy snowfall, plunging temperatures, and excessive winds can all make mountain climbing a challenge for the most experienced of us. Whether you’re planning on going out there as a pair or in a group, safety is paramount.
Never let yourself be complacent if there are several of you climbing together – everyone has to invest the same degree of preparation and vigilance.
Here are our tips for staying safe while mountain climbing in winter …
Research Avalanche Conditions Ahead of Time
Without doubt, avalanches are one of the most dangerous natural events in winter. Before you set out on your climb, check your local weather station for the latest updates. You should also visit avalanche.org, sponsored by The American Avalanche Association, which is filled with essential information.
You’ll also be able to find detailed information in forums and online communities, so get to know other like-minded climbers.
You may also want to call ahead to your destination’s ranger station, to ask for their advice on avalanche risks and expected conditions throughout the day.
Take the ‘Onion’ Approach
You need to wear several layers in winter. Rather than wearing a padded coat and a thick sweater, layers mean you can peel off should you start to overheat.
Sounds ridiculous? Consider the amount of physical exertion required to climb a mountain, and you’ll see how you can still overheat in chilly conditions. Being able to take a layer or two off will make you more comfortable, without you having to remove something more substantial.
Don’t forget to wear thermals, which wick moisture away from your skin. Carry spare socks and a change of thermals, in case you need to freshen up.
If you’re climbing snowy terrain in bright weather, sunglasses are essential to prevent glare affecting your sight. Snowblindness is a real danger, as is sunburn – pack sun-block in your backpack, even if you think you may not need it.
Choose the Smartest Route
Generally, climbing ridges is safer in winter than tackling faces. The reason? Ridges tend to be free of deep snow, and as they’re windswept the snow is typically safer to cross than powdery surfaces.
Just be careful, though, as cornices form on the side of ridges. If you tread on these without realizing, they may well break under your weight – sending you over the edge.
At a more basic level, choose routes that pose a simpler experience. Trails you may walk in summer without any problems whatsoever are likely to be totally different in winter, with heavy snowfall, rain, and ice. With information from the local weather station and other climbers, you’ll be able to identify the safest trails for your level of experience.
Again, this comes down to investing time into effective research. Simply heading out on a climb on the spur of the moment is easily done, and may seem exciting, but you can’t afford to ignore the dangers posed by winter mountains.
We stock a range of mountaineering gear to help you get the most out of your winter climbs, and have a range of waterproof backpacks to keep your supplies dry (vital in case you fall into snow often or get caught in the rain).
Prepare, pack all the right supplies, wear the best gear you can find, and don’t push yourself into challenges beyond your abilities.
During the colder months, exercising outdoors can be tough. When it’s cold, wet, or snowing heavily, your natural instinct tends to involve curling up in front of the fire. Finding the motivation to go for that three-mile run or take a swim can be difficult.
Still, this isn’t true of everyone – many people love to get out there and enjoy the brisk, biting chill. One of the most popular winter sports?
Without doubt, snowboarding is one of the coolest, most dynamic of all winter sports, a mix of skateboarding and skiing that demands considerable skill. Of course, the stunning snow-capped locations hold immense appeal, helping to attract newcomers year on year.
Always been curious to try snowboarding but unsure exactly how it benefits you?
Let’s take a look at just a few reasons you should give it a try.
Build a Tougher Body
Snowboarding looks far, far easier than it actually is. Staying on your board while traveling downhill at speed requires incredible balance, which works your entire body.
Steering your board strengthens your calves, quads, and hamstrings, while your arms and shoulders work hard to keep you steady.
Get a Cardiovascular Workout
Believe it or not, snowboarding can provide one heck of a cardio workout.
For the average person, you’ll burn anywhere from 250 to more than 600 calories per hour of snowboarding. This depends on the terrain, of course, but as very few people spend less than a few hours on their board, you’re sure to feel the burn.
Walking back uphill provides extra exercise, as does picking yourself up out of the snow (we all fall now and then).
If you’ve watched snowboarders in action, you’ll know just how often they need to twist and turn, changing direction and speed with fast movements. You need to move with the terrain and develop strong control over your body.
Over time, you’ll find you become more flexible and develop better balance.
Lighten Your Mood
Like any exercise, snowboarding makes you feel better in body and mind.
Why? It releases endorphins, those all-important neurochemicals that regulate happiness. As you work your way down the slopes, working your body, you should feel good, content, and motivated.
This goes hand-in-hand with the overall fun you can have in a snowboarding environment. If you’re lucky enough to travel to one of America’s best snowboarding destinations (such as Mount Bachelor, Mammoth Mountain, or Jackson Hole) you’ll get to enjoy amazing views.
You can also make snowboarding trips into luxurious holidays, bonding with friends and meeting new people in a unique setting. Think that will help to keep lifting your mood higher and higher?
Before you start snowboarding for the first time, it’s vital you spend time researching the best boards, the right gear, and the usual practice-methods to get you ready for your first trip.
If you plan on taking food, drink, first-aid kits, and other essentials on the slopes with you, don’t forget to take a waterproof backpack with you. Otherwise, your supplies may well get wet if you happen to fall again and again.