Summer is over – but that’s no reason to mothball your running shoes. Our tips will help you stay on in autumn and winter.
Outside the darkness lies like a cold blanket over the city, inside macaroni, “Mad Men” and a plump wool sweater lure. After the day in the office, the sofa looks like an invitation to let oneself fall. It’s just beginning to drizzle. Under the pale street lighting, the rain looks like a wet, grey wall. There are plenty of reasons to bring your running shoes to the basement in autumn and winter and leave them there until spring. But there are even more reasons to defy the weather and still go out on the track. Because no matter how grey the sky is, the body is happy about fresh air.
So let’s go! The first breaths are cold, but they do you good. They ensure that the body boosts the immune system; the dog’s weather stimulates the immune system. Maybe you are shivering during the first few metres, but at the latest after five minutes this is over: The body reaches operating temperature, your steps become calmer, the rhythm more even. Already now you can be proud of yourself that you have picked yourself up despite the adverse circumstances. You also burn calories – more than when you’re on the treadmill in the gym.
You’ll be halfway there in no time. The office stress is behind you; you’re starting to really enjoy running. A little sprint in between? Go ahead, that’s good for basic endurance. What do you care about puddles on the way? You can just jump over it and train your reaction and balance. Now there are only a few curves left, then the final spurt and finish in the apartment. It was nice. You really deserve the warm shower now!
In summer as in winter, regular jogging strengthens the cardiovascular system, strengthens the musculoskeletal system and ensures mental balance through the release of happiness hormones. Those who run in the cold season also train their immune system. The body forms additional killer cells to prepare itself for this type of stress. These help to ward off viruses and bacteria in everyday life as well. “Anyone who regularly walks outside in winter hardens,” says Ingo Froboese, head of the Centre for Health through Sport and Exercise at the German Sports University in Cologne. It is even healthier to run at cold temperatures than at 30 degrees in midsummer. stern answers the most important questions on the subject.
Running – in any weather?
Better not. At temperatures below minus ten degrees you are better off on the sofa: The body can no longer warm the air you breathe through your nose sufficiently. It then arrives too cold in the lungs and irritates the bronchi. In sub-zero temperatures it can therefore help to breathe through a thin cloth in front of your mouth.
What do I wear?
Even if it’s cold, don’t dress too fat. As soon as your body has started to get going, you are guaranteed to get warm. Dress according to the onion principle so that you can take off layers while walking: Wear thin functional underwear directly on your body that transports perspiration away from your skin. It’s best to pull a fleece sweater over it. If it rains and is very windy, a breathable, water-repellent jacket will come over it. If the temperature drops below ten degrees, a cap, gloves and a thin scarf will help against the cold. Cotton clothing is not suitable in winter because it does not carry moisture away from the body. Don’t spend long outdoors sweating after a run: “It’s best to put on a dry T-shirt quickly,” advises Ingo Froboese.
Better to run in the woods?
Often working people only come to jog in daylight on weekends. Make this training an event: look for a route through field, forest and meadow. The slightly hilly relief forces the body to use different muscles than when running in the plain. “Above all, the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles are put under greater strain in the terrain,” says Froboese. “The best thing to do is to increase the angle of the inclines slowly and continuously.” While running downhill, try to control your speed and cushion your steps. “Never let your body fall on your stretched leg.”
How often, how long?
Because the cardiovascular system has to work harder in cool weather to keep organs and muscles warm, you should keep your training heart rate five to ten beats lower than in summer – and extend the range from the generally recommended 30 to 45 minutes to 45 to 60 minutes. “Winter helps to build basic endurance,” says Ingo Froboese. The body then needs less time to regenerate. “Instead of two to three times a week as in summer, you can go out three to four times a week.” This recommendation is valid for a 25-year-old as well as for a 60-year-old.
Running with a cold?
The person sitting next to you in the bus coughs, the colleague in the office has been complaining about unwell for days – no wonder if you feel tired shortly afterwards. If only your nose is running and you don’t have a fever or cough, you can still try an easy, low-intensity run. But if you have a full-grown flu infection with headache, throat pain and aching limbs, you should refrain – even if you have alleviated the symptoms with medication.
If you have a fever, it is absolutely forbidden to run! It is not the illness itself that is dangerous, but the strain of training, which can further weaken the body. He now needs all his strength to cope with the viruses. In the worst case, a feverish cold can lead to an inflammation of the heart muscle. A good indicator of whether you are fit again for a sport unit is your resting pulse. Everyone should know their individual value in a healthy state. Measure it in the morning immediately after waking up. If the body is struggling with an infection, the resting pulse is increased – an unmistakable sign that your body still needs to recover for a few days.
How do I make sure I am seen?
Illuminated courses are rare, unfortunately. The best way to recognize a stumbling block in the dark is to get a headlamp. They are now so light and the belt is so well padded that you can hardly feel them. It is also important to be seen by drivers. Light-coloured clothing, which is often recommended, is impractical – who wants to wash all your sports clothes after every running session? It is better to wear reflective clothing or a few Velcro straps with reflectors. They don’t interfere with running.
How can I animate myself?
Those who go running regularly in autumn and winter deserve a medal. You can find them at the finish line of the running competitions that are held all over Germany during the cold season (for example, dates can be found at www.runnersworld.de/laufevents). Often these races are open to everyone. New Year’s Eve or New Year’s runs are also popular events for hobby joggers. Many participants are not interested in best times – they just want to train off the weighty consequences of the Advent season.
Which shoes are suitable?
As long as the paths are dry, you can wear the same as in summer. It is important that they have a non-slip profile and no holes. “Many runners think that their old shoes will keep them through the winter and buy new ones only in spring. But good running shoes are especially important in wet times,” says Ingo Froboese. He advises changing them every 600 kilometres. If it rains, the feet quickly get wet even in new shoes. Froboese: “That’s not bad. You should change your socks quickly afterwards”. If you travel a lot on muddy roads, cross-country or trail shoes can be a good solution. They are equipped with a waterproof membrane. In most cases, the outsole of these shoes is pulled higher, the profile is more pronounced and the heel cap is reinforced. Off the beaten track, these shoes provide better support – but lose flexibility. The following applies to the purchase: Do not go to the sports shop until the afternoon or evening because your feet swell during the day. Take a pair of worn sports shoes with you – a trained salesman will be able to recognise the special features of your running style from them.