Running in autumn: man jogging on a forest path.

Jogging in Winter and Autumn: Tips for Training and Clothing

With cold temperatures and grey skies, some runners find it hard to motivate themselves to go for a run outdoors. But exercise in the fresh air has some great advantages even in the dark season, for example, to banish the winter blues. We show you how to defy wind and weather with the right running clothes. With the right preparation for warm-up and cool-down, as well as some tips that you should bear in mind when jogging in the cold and dark, you can get through autumn and winter safely and healthily.

What Should You Look Out for When Running in Autumn and Winter?

There are a few things to keep in mind so that you can keep up your training even in cold or drizzly weather. Here are a few tips:

Running in Cold and Wet Conditions: Strengthen Your Immune System

When training in autumn and winter, make sure to strengthen your immune system:

  • Remember to get enough sleep. We recommend about 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night, depending on your sleep pattern.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Carbohydrates provide energy, while seasonal fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, nuts, cabbage, and root vegetables provide you with valuable vitamins.
  • Make sure you drink enough. You can get dehydrated while running even in winter, so replenish your fluid levels regularly. However, your drink should not be too cold. Depending on your taste, you can also drink lukewarm tea.
  • Recover thoroughly after a workout. A warm bath increases your well-being, while the warmth relaxes your muscles after exercise. Regular sauna visits are also often recommended to strengthen the body’s defences.

AttentionYou should not train with a cold, because the strain can prolong the course of the illness or make it worse. Get well first before you start with casual endurance training again.

AttentionYou should not train with a cold, because the strain can prolong the course of the illness or make it worse. Get well first before you start with casual endurance training again.

Cold Weather Jogging: Warm-Up, Cool-Down, and Training Intensity

To take full advantage of the health benefits of running, you should adapt your training to the special demands of the cold season. This applies above all to the structure and intensity of your usual training.

Running in Winter: Recommendations for Intensity

The more intense your training, the deeper you breathe when you run. Deep breaths through the mouth can dry out the mucous membranes and irritate the bronchial tubes, especially in the cold winter air. Intense training sessions such as interval or tempo runs put too much strain on your airways in cold weather.

Instead, a relaxed endurance run is recommended in winter, during which you can still breathe through your nose without any problems. Through the nose, the cool air takes a longer route to the lungs and is warmed up more by then. A light scarf in front of your mouth also helps to warm the air.

Since you can take in less air through your nose than through your mouth, you should reduce the intensity of your exercise. This will prevent shortness of breath or a side stitch.

Running in autumn: Two runners do their cool-down in the park.

At What Temperature Is It Too Cold to Jog?

A bit of drizzle or even fresh snow shouldn’t deter you – but at what point is it too cold to run outdoors, even for seasoned runners? In general, experts recommend not jogging or running outdoors when temperatures drop below minus 17 °C. At colder temperatures, sufficient blood flow to muscles, tendons and ligaments becomes much harder, which increases the risk of injury.

Apart from that, it also depends on your perception of cold, from which temperature you no longer feel comfortable jogging and running in nature. For many runners, humidity is also a decisive factor, as the air is clearer, and it is sometimes easier to breathe when the humidity is comparatively low.

Jogging in Winter: Adjust Warm-up and Cool-down

In cold temperatures, muscles take longer to warm up. To avoid muscle strains or incorrect stresses, you should plan enough time for a thorough warm-up. Here’s what to keep in mind when warming up and warming down in winter:

  • Make the warm-up a little longer and the cool-down a little shorter than in summer: plan at least 15 minutes for the warm-up and run loosely for about one minute at the end.
  • Stretch in a warmer place so that you don’t cool down too much during the warm-up.
  • Run slowly before picking up the pace. Overall, your run should not reach the same intensity as in summer.
  • You can prevent your muscles from hardening after the workout by finishing off your run at a more relaxed pace.
  • After your run, get warm quickly and change into dry clothes to reduce the risk of catching a cold.

NoteJust half an hour of exercise in daylight stimulates the production of vitamin D and serotonin. Vitamin D is important for bone formation and muscle function, while serotonin influences balance and well-being. Both your immune system and your mood can benefit from winter training if you are properly prepared.

NoteJust half an hour of exercise in daylight stimulates the production of vitamin D and serotonin. Vitamin D is important for bone formation and muscle function, while serotonin influences balance and well-being. Both your immune system and your mood can benefit from winter training if you are properly prepared.

Tips for Jogging in the Dark

Depending on your training schedule, you may find yourself running at dusk or even in the dark in autumn and winter. There are some important safety tips to follow:

  • Wear light-coloured running clothes with reflectors. This can increase your visibility to other road users and runners by up to 150 metres.
  • Run along well-lit routes with little traffic. This will give you better visibility and help you judge the path ahead.
  • Try not to listen to music while running to be more aware of your surroundings.
  • If you often run in the dark, a headlamp or chest lamp are useful to have. You will be able to see the path better, which will make you more sure-footed. Of course, a headlamp also makes it easier for other road users to spot you.

Choose the Right Running Clothes for Wet and Cold Conditions

So that you can continue your running training even in cold temperatures or uncomfortable weather, you need the right functional clothing to protect you from wind and weather.

Jogging in winter: Runner takes a break and drinks water.

Functional Clothing for Running in Autumn and Winter

Cold, wet, and windy conditions place extra demands on your running clothes in autumn and winter. It is important that you stay dry and warm, but also that you do not overheat. The right functional clothing for winter should also ensure good visibility. To be prepared for the autumn and winter months, you need the following equipment:

Jogging in Cold Weather – Basic Rules for the Correct Running Clothing

  • The following rule of thumb is often used to determine the right running clothes: Add ten degrees to the current outside temperature and you get the temperature you should dress for when jogging. At the start of your run, you should be slightly cold, otherwise, you will quickly become too warm during the training.
  • Other weather conditions also influence how warm you should dress: If there is a strong wind and overcast skies, you will feel colder than in sunny, clear weather.
  • Wearing ‘layered clothing’ means you combine several layers of thin functional clothing instead of wearing thick winter clothing. This prevents you from overheating while running.
  • Breathable, water- and wind-repellent running clothes in winter wick moisture away from the body to prevent chilling and protect against the outside weather conditions.

Winter Running Clothes: Here’s How ‘Layered Clothing’ Works

You essentially combine three different layers of clothing depending on how cold or wet it is. It is important that each layer is breathable to prevent heat build-up and to allow moisture to escape.

A distinction is made between the following important layers of functional clothing in winter:

1st base layer: This layer lies directly on the skin and should ensure that you stay dry and warm. This includes functional underwear that is quick-drying and breathable.

2nd insulation layer: This layer helps regulate heat and provide thermal insulation, so its use naturally depends heavily on the outside temperatures. Warm clothes such as jumpers, jackets, or trousers made of fleece work well.

3rd weather protection layer: This layer helps protect yourself from wind and moisture. Trousers, vests, and jackets made of special windproof and waterproof material are part of the weather protection layer.

You can choose between softshell and hard-shell jackets. Softshell jackets are lighter and more elastic, windproof, water-repellent and keep you warm to a certain extent. Hard-shell jackets score points for higher water resistance but are usually somewhat less breathable.

A graphic explaining the layered clothing: The correct running clothes for different temperatures.

Suitable Running Shoes for Autumn and Winter

To avoid slipping on wet leaves or slippery roads, you need shoes with a stronger, grippier tread and a thicker sole. At the same time, suitable breathable and waterproof winter running shoes will prevent your feet from getting wet. For particularly difficult or slippery terrain, there are also running shoes with special spikes for more grip. Although the tread of winter running shoes should provide a better grip, you should still try to take smaller steps than in summer.

In addition to a sturdy running shoe, you can buy winter running socks: Winter running socks are usually a little thicker and longer than normal running socks. However, special winter running socks are not a must if you are happy with your usual summer socks.

CheckFor many runners, the treadmill at the gym or home serves as an alternative in winter when it is too cold or rainy to jog outside. Keep in mind that the treadmill workout is slightly different from a normal running workout. Both the running motion and the steps are different, so you should stretch thoroughly afterwards.

CheckFor many runners, the treadmill at the gym or home serves as an alternative in winter when it is too cold or rainy to jog outside. Keep in mind that the treadmill workout is slightly different from a normal running workout. Both the running motion and the steps are different, so you should stretch thoroughly afterwards.

Conclusion

For many avid runners, wind, drizzle, or even snow is no reason to stop running in autumn and winter. With the right functional clothing, you should stay protected against harsher weather conditions and can continue to be active in the fresh air. However, it is also important to adapt your training intensity and your warm-up and cool-down routine to the colder temperatures to protect your muscles, tendons, and ligaments from injury. This will help you get through the dark season safe, healthy, and fit.

References:

https://www.runnersworld.com/beginner/a20834718/the-newbie-guide-to-running-when-its-cold/
(Accessed on 26.10.2021)

https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/12-common-winter-running-mistakes/
(Accessed on 26.10.2021)

https://www.healthline.com/health/winter-running#cold-weather-precautions
(Accessed on 26.10.2021)

https://www.runtastic.com/blog/en/running-in-fall/
(Accessed on 26.10.2021)

Image sources:

iStock.com/Alexander Chernyakov

iStock.com/sportpoint

iStock.com/Martinan

iStock.com/mihailomilovanovic