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6 winter running tips for beginner runners

A few important notes for any new runners out there training through the winter for the first time

Running in the winter is much different than running in the summer. In the summer, it’s a carefree activity and it’s not too hard to convince yourself to get out the door. In the winter, though, you have to plan for the cold and the dark, and you might find yourself struggling to find motivation. Running through the months of November to March can be difficult enough, so here are a few tips to make training easier this winter for any new runners out there. 

Start off easy 

Warming up is always important, but especially so in the winter. Even if you aren’t planning on going out for a fast or hard run, you should take it extra easy for the first five or 10 minutes of your session. Once your body warms up, you can pick up the pace. 

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Check the weather

Winter in Canada is unpredictable. One day it can be 5 C and the next it can be -10 C. Unlike in the summer, when you can pretty much always get away with wearing the same type of outfit, in the winter, you need a running gear lineup. Some runs all you’ll need is a shirt or two, leggings, your hat and gloves, but on other runs it’ll be necessary to throw on a sweater, a jacket, a buff and maybe even more. Before every run this winter, take a look at the weather forecast so you can dress accordingly. 

Leave things behind

It’s better to wear too many layers rather than too few. You might start a run all bundled up, but as you get moving, you might start to get too hot. If this happens to you, don’t be afraid to leave things behind and go back to pick them up later. Tie your jacket or sweater to a signpost or tree, make sure you know exactly where it is and keep running. This tip probably isn’t the best for city runners, but anyone in smaller towns can probably get away with it without worrying that their gear will get taken. 

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Don’t trust the snow 

Be careful when you run on potentially slippery roads. Even if the snow on the ground looks like it’s packed down well, it can be slippery. Sometimes only a small dusting of snow covers the ice, and if you step on that, you’ll end up on the ground. It’s especially important to take it easy around corners. It’s OK to run fast in the winter, but make sure you focus on where you’re stepping so you can be as safe as possible every run. 

winter running

Run during the day (if possible)

If you can, stick to daytime running. That might not be possible for people with 9 to 5 jobs, as it’s dark when you get up for work and dark by the time you get home, but take any chance you get to run when it’s light out so everyone else on the road can see you. Winter driving conditions are already sketchy enough with the snow and ice on the roads, and adding darkness into the mix makes matters even worse. If you can’t swing a daylight run, at least wear reflective clothes to make yourself as visible as possible. 

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Try out a race 

This winter you won’t be able to find an in-person race, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jump into virtual events. A lot of people reserve races for the spring, summer and fall, but why deprive yourself of competition for an entire third of every year? Do yourself a favour and enter some virtual races this winter. It’ll help motivate you in training and add some fun to your schedule.