Someone once told me the hardest thing about the London Marathon was training through the Winter! Probably true... If you are not cursed by being addicted to Spring Marathons, then maybe you are into the down and dirty Cross Country season? Or just maybe you are one of the (many... even me) that just like running most days for the sake of running most days!
Autumn, Winter... Just a different landscape to frame your run. But being prepared does go a long way to ensuring you have the most fun on the run. A few thoughts:
I know... Bit like post run stretching, warm ups are as common as Unicorns (apart from race day). But for Winter running they are especially important once the temperature starts to drop. Your body is colder from the ambient temperature, HR is slower, muscles are nowhere near ready. So building and executing a warm up routine is particularly important if you want to avoid unnecessary injuries. If you are doing anything "high intensity" then you really won't get the best out of your session if you are not fully warmed up.
DRESS THE PART
Wear layers of clothing that will keep you warm and dry during your runs. Avoid wearing cotton clothes, as they tend to hold moisture and can make you cold. Instead, go for moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep sweat away from your skin. All that is pretty obvious and the same as you would do in Summer (right?). But in Winter it is super easy to over dress! We look outside from our centrally heated home and it looks bleak... The only sane thing to do is dress as if you were going to the supermarket. OK, whatever it takes to get out the door. But you will get hot and you will get hot quickly. So wear multiple layers. After your run you will cool down super quick so having multiple (dry) layers to put back on will be very welcome. My point here is you really do need to think about your running clothes in Winter.
BE SEEN, BE SAFE
Make sure you are wearing reflective running gear and lights BEFORE it gets dark. If you drive a car you will know that visibility is much reduced at dusk (sun setting in your eyes) and from windows that are steaming up from damp passengers. Therefore, the chances of a car driver not spotting a runner are greatly increased. Think about it form the drivers perspective, not because you care about the driver (overly!), but you should care about how much their lack of attention will hurt YOU when they hit you. Wear reflective gear. Wear lights. Think about the sunset.
I know we get double points for running in the rain and the cold, but even the most 'robust' runners need be realistic about running in icy conditions. Apart from the slipping over risk, it is actually pretty much a waste of time. In order to keep your balance you will change your natural gait and (if you have any sense) you will slow down materially! So what will you achieve? You might as well go for a walk (...lot to be said for that actually). You can still torture yourself in icy days... That's why God gave us treadmills.
Even though it's cold and you will probably feel a lot less thirsty, you will still sweat. You already know the importance of hydration in spring and summers, so just apply the same rules to your winter runs and maintain your hydration. (before, possibly during depending on the duration, and certainly after).
So have fun and enjoy the cold stuff! If you are on Strava then feel free to connect ;)