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Training & advice

Running in extreme weather

We are quite lucky in Britain in that we rarely see extreme weather conditions but we do get many different kinds of weather that can challenge our running routines. Below are our tips on how to ensure you get out of the door no matter what it is doing outside.

Running in snow and ice

Of all the weather conditions this is probably the cause of the most missed days of training. Snowy conditions can be treacherous if the snow packs down into slippy ice. If the snow has freshly fallen it can be easier and more enjoyable to run off-road, in the park or through the woods. The trick is to have the right footwear. Trail shoes with a grippy outsole or with studs will help keep you on your feet and running. Alternatively you could buy yourself some micro spikes that slip over you shoes or make yourself a pair of screw shoes! So that's the bottom part of the body taken care of. The next most important part is the top. Snowy and icy weather can mean freezing temperatures and so a hat or a fleecy headband will help you to stay warm and protect your ears from the cold. If it is actually snowing you may want a hat with a brim to keep the snow from hitting your face. On the positive side, snowy conditions can be very scenic and beautiful and because the snow is reflective you can enjoy running earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon and have better visibility than when the snow isn't there.

Running in cold and windy conditions

Layers and a windproof jacket on top will keep you happy and warm on a wild, winter night. Avoid cotton as it will become wet and heavy. Look for fabrics that wick moisture from the skin so that you stay dry and comfortable throughout your run. However, you should avoid overdressing. Don't forget that you will warm up after ten minutes or so and you may need to put up with being slightly cold at the beginning but it is better to tolerate that than become too warm and not be able to run as well as you might otherwise. Some leggings, a long sleeved top with a jacket over the top and hat and gloves is often all that is needed. If your jacket has pockets you can take the gloves and hat off as you get warm and carry them in the pocket.

Route choice is important if the wind is strong and cold. Try to find a route that is sheltered - perhaps through woodlands or a valley footpath with banks on either side. Set out with the wind in your face so that you get used to the cold at the beginning of the run and then when you are on your way back, and possibly more tired, you don't have to battle against the wind and cold.

When you have finished your run put on more warm clothes or have a shower or bath as soon as you can as your body temperature will fall quickly once  you stop moving.

Deep breaths of cold air can trigger a tight chest or asthma. If you are prone to this you may be better exercising indoors on a cold night.

Running in the rain

The hardest part of running in the rain is getting out of the door! If you set out on your run in dry conditions and it starts raining when you are out, it often feels refreshing unless it is coming down in bucket loads! A water resistant jacket comes into its own in wet conditions but make sure it is breathable. If it is completely waterproof and the seams are sealed you will find it gets wet inside from your perspiration. Unforunately most running jackets, on the market, are dark coloured but a fluorescent one or light colour is preferable as visiblity can be low in the rain and you need to be visible to traffic.

Chafing can be a problem in wet, warm weather and you may need to protect yourself with a smear of vaseline on your feet, inner thighs, under your arms and on your nipples (if you're a man with no sports bra)!

A hat with a peak of brim can help keep rain out of your face and will keep your head dry.

When you get back from your run get your kit in the wash and, rather than leaving your shoes in a wet heap by the door, take in sock liner out, stuff some newspaper in and leave them somewhere warm where they will dry. You shouldn't put your shoes in the washing machine as washing powder destroys the mid-sole. Nor should you put them too close to intense heat as this can also damage them.

Running in thunderstorms

If it is thundering and lightening don't go out for your run! You can skip your training session or wait for it to pass and then go out. However, if it starts thundering and lightening when you are out you should head for cover in the nearest building. If someone in your running group is struck by lightening you should help them as quickly as you can. Don't worry, they won't carry an electric charge and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be effective if used promptly so get help to them as quickly as you can.

Running in the heat


On very hot days you should slow your pace down and pick your time of day avoiding the midday sun. Early morning and late evenings are a far more sensible time to go out. The mornings can be particularly pleasant as the air feels clean and fresh and you have peace and quiet before the rest of the world awakens!

Think about the other weather factors. Is there a breeze? If so choose a route where the wind is behind you on the way out when you are still cool and fresh and then you will have it against you to cool you down in the latter parts of your run.

You would also be wise to choose a route with plenty of shade. Are you able to run through woodlands?

Sunscreen is a must when running in hot weather. When you're wearing shorts and singlet you are sure to get burnt if you neglect to slip, slop, slap. Light-coloured clothes help reflect the heat and moisture wicking, light fabrics will make for a more comfortable run . Avoid cotton. It will become wet and it prevents evaporation of your sweat, which is how your body cools itself, and can cause chafing. Wearing a cap is good as it protects your face from the sun but make sure this is made from breathable material. Lightweight socks are also good. Hot feet are no fun and can lead to your feet swelling and then your shoes feeling tight and black toe nails!

Don't forget to hydrate.If it is very hot you would be wise to sip some water every 20 minutes or as you feel you require it. You should continue to sip water when you have finished your run too but avoid gluggling down big quantities.

Carry ID

If you are running on your own you should carry some form of ID so that you can be identified if anything untoward does happen to you. Many running specialists sell wrist wallets that have space for you to put your name, contact and medical details.