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Stay On Track This Winter: Essential Training Tips For Runners

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, highlights essential training tips for runners to help you stay on track this winter.
“With its shorter days, colder temperatures, and slippery surfaces, winter can be challenging for runners but, according to Runner’s World, winter is preferable for running to summer because you aren’t as limited by the heat as you are for most of our year,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“With the right strategies and mindset, you can maintain your running routine safely and effectively throughout the chilly months.”

Dress Appropriately

The key to winter running is dressing in layers. Choose a moisture-wicking base layer to draw sweat away from your skin, layer on some insulation to keep warm, and top it off with a lightweight windproof jacket. Avoid clothing made of cotton, as it tends to absorb sweat and dry slowly. If you’re skipping gloves, look for long-sleeve shirts with thumb loops to provide extra warmth for your hands. Invest in shoes with a good grip to handle slippery surfaces.

Warm Up Thoroughly

Cold muscles are less flexible and more likely to strain and tear. Warming up raises your body temperature and blood flow to muscles, making them more supple and less prone to injury. Proper warm-ups activate your cardiovascular system, gradually increasing your heart rate and circulation.

This prepares your muscles for the higher intensity of running, which can enhance your overall performance. Spend 5 to 10 minutes on exercises like leg swings, high knees, and arm circles indoors where it’s warm. This will get your blood flowing and muscles ready for the run.

Adjust Your Expectations

Winter conditions can lead to slower paces due to slippery surfaces and extra clothing. Recognise that winter running is not about speed. Focus on maintaining your fitness level and endurance. Adjust your goals and celebrate staying active during the winter months.

Stay Visible

With fewer daylight hours, chances are higher that you’ll run in the dark. Wear reflective clothing and gear and consider a headlamp or flashlight to see and be seen. If you’re on the road, always run facing traffic, and choose well-lit routes when possible.

Change Your Running Surface

Frost can make your usual running paths hazardous. Switch to cleared roads or use trails specifically maintained for winter sports. Treadmills are a safe alternative if the weather is too extreme. Some runners also use indoor tracks to keep up their training.

Protect Your Skin

The cold air and biting winds can dry out and chap your skin. Before you head out, apply a moisturising balm to sensitive spots like your lips, nose, and cheeks. And don’t skip the sunscreen. The strength of ultraviolet (UV) radiation is not necessarily related to the temperature. Even on cold or cloudy winter days, UV rays can penetrate the atmosphere and cause skin damage, including sunburn and long-term risks like skin cancer.

Stay Hydrated

It’s easy to overlook hydration when it’s cold out, but you can still get dehydrated in winter, especially when you’re layered up and sweating. Drink water regularly throughout the day and consider carrying a small water bottle during long runs.

Run with Friends

Running with a group or a friend makes the runs more enjoyable and safer. It’s easier to stay motivated when someone is depending on you to show up. Plus, having extra people around can help in case of emergencies.

Listen to Your Body

Pay close attention to your body’s signals. Winter can exacerbate conditions like asthma or lead to frostbite on exposed skin. Cut your run short if you feel too cold, exhausted, or in pain. There’s no harm in being cautious.

After-Run Care

Once you finish your run, change out of wet clothes immediately to avoid getting cold. Drink something warm to help raise your body temperature and hydrate. Stretch and do a cool-down to help your muscles recover and reduce stiffness.


Adjust Your Diet

Since your body uses more calories to keep warm in the winter, you might need to eat more to power through your runs. Add seasonal veggies and foods rich in healthy fats and proteins to boost your energy levels. 


Winter running requires extra planning and caution but can also be incredibly rewarding. With the crisp air and often quieter paths, winter can be a peaceful time to enjoy your runs. By following these tips, you can stay safe, enjoy consistent training throughout the season, and emerge stronger and ready for new challenges in the spring. Keep up the spirit and remember that every cold run you complete is a testament to your dedication and love for running.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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