What to watch out for when training in winter

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Running equipment, breathing and much more influence your training in cold temperatures. We have some tips for you to keep in mind.

Dangers in winter

The biggest danger is the cold and dry air in winter. When running, large amounts of cold, dry air can be inhaled, which cools and dries out the mucous membranes. This puts more strain on the respiratory tract. If the airways are overtaxed, there is a risk of catching a cold or even developing a respiratory disease such as bronchitis, as dried-out airways are much more susceptible to pathogens.

Secondly, it is also important to note that muscles and connective tissue are somewhat stiffer in winter and can therefore be more susceptible. A snowy or even icy surface therefore harbours some dangers.


Correct breathing

The most important aspect of exercising in cold temperatures concerns breathing. Breathing through the mouth dries out the mucous membranes very quickly. Dirt and bacteria from the air can also enter the lungs unfiltered. It is therefore advisable to breathe in through the nose, as this is where the air is moistened, warmed and filtered.


Start the training

Instead of an extensive warm-up programme, the first few kilometres of the running track are a good time to get used to the running pace in a relaxed and slow way. Simple exercises such as arm circles or small sequences with bounces can also be integrated.


Even exertion

To avoid overloading the respiratory system in cold temperatures, a steady workload at a moderate pace is ideal. This way you breathe constantly and not too fast! This ensures that enough air is taken in through the nose. Another tip: You should refrain from talking while running.


Distance before speed

Intensive exertion leads to breathing in a lot of cold air. This puts a lot of strain on the respiratory system, or even overstrains it in some cases. The recommendation is therefore to increase the amount of training (i.e. distance) and keep the speed low. It is better to schedule speed and interval training in autumn or spring or to do it indoors.


Symptoms of running too fast

If your lungs start to struggle or you feel pain, the pace is probably too fast. If the training is too intense, you are breathing in too much ice-cold air too quickly. A more even, slower running pace is the key to regulated breathing.


Too warm, too cold: The equipment

For outdoor training in the cold, using the right equipment is more important than you think! Wearing a hat or headband is crucial, as a lot of heat is dissipated through the head. However, it should not be a thick woollen hat, but rather something functional. Gloves are also a good idea, but are not as relevant as headgear. Especially on icy trails, running shoes with a good tread are incredibly important to protect yourself from slipping and possible injuries. Speaking of protection: When running at dusk and in the dark, you should not do without reflectors and a headlamp. Safety first - make yourself visible!

But be careful! Clothing that is too warm can also lead to unwanted colds because you sweat too much. As a result, when you open your clothes, the sweat on your skin cools down quickly and you catch a cold. Therefore, the so-called layering principle with breathable clothes is best. However, care should be taken that there is not too much air between the layers of clothing, this cools down quickly and prevents your body from warming up adequately. As a rule of thumb, you can feel a little cold during the first few kilometres. The movement will take care of the rest.


At the end of the workout and afterwards

In the last four to five minutes, the running speed should be reduced slightly to allow the cardiovascular system to slow down. Sprinting for the last few metres is not recommended. However, this applies regardless of the season. To prevent colds, dry clothes should be put on immediately after training.


Below 10 degrees – not recommended

If the thermometer shows minus 10 degrees or even lower temperatures, you should refrain from running. A walk or a workout at home is much more suitable.


Train regularly thanks to running events

Running in cold temperatures often requires a lot of effort. The best motivation for regular running is to set achievable goals:

  • Register for a running event and set a goal for yourself.
  • arrange binding training sessions with a running partner
  • Put running on a fixed day of the week in your calendar.
  • gain exciting insight into your own training thanks to running watches and apps