Even though training tends to be less focused, and other activities may take precedence, many harriers still hit the road in winter. Despite the challenges faced braving the cold and darkness, it does pay off to jog at least a few days a week.
In order to run outdoors during the winter, runners are forced to consider a whole host of health and safety issues that they don't have to deal with during the summer months. Those living in colder climates encounter more challenges than others, but factors such as decreased daylight affect everyone.
Instead of letting the challenge of winter running affect his training, Kirk Keller, M.S., a masters competitor and owner of Keller Coaching in Southwest Montana, tries to take a more positive approach. "Running and training in the winter months can be fun—with adjustments. Flexibility is essential to a successful and enjoyable winter training program."
More: Winter Running Tips
Use these five tips to protect yourself from when running during the winter months.
Time of Day
What time of day you run can have a big impact on what you need to prepare for. Unfortunately, sneaking in a run at lunchtime when the sun is high in the sky isn't an option for everyone. If you're forced to run in the dark, it's important that you take proper safety measures.
"Reflective materials and a powerful headlamp are musts if you're running at dawn or dusk," says Keller. "Caution should also be exercised in evaluating the training route for safety, visibility and exposure."
You should also find routes with sidewalks that offer a clear separation from oncoming traffic when you run in the dark.
If you live in a cold weather state, traction products that fit over your shoes are another piece of gear you should own.
Another option is winter-specific or trail running shoes that have a more aggressive outsole. Larger knobs on the soles act as claws to grip the ice and snow as you run. Shoes built for colder climates also provide a more protective upper, which will help keep your feet warm.