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Winter running motivation

Winter running | Andrew Becker

Words & Images: Andrew Becker

Swedish Winter Running:

Living in Skåne, the south of Sweden, winter running varies from plus five degrees and sunny, to minus 15, blowing a gale and snow cover all over. It can be difficult to keep motivated and get the legs turning when the weather can shift in a few seconds. One day can be shorts and sunnies weather and the next you need a base layer and spike attachments for your shoes. It has been a dramatic shift compared to where I was two years ago, living in Brisbane, Australia where a shirt, shorts, shoes and cap is all that's required pretty much year round. So here I have compiled my top tips for getting out the door during the dark and cold of Winter:

1. Prep by checking the weather

2. Prep your gear

3. Prep your mind and body

4. Prep your running buddy

5. Prep your coffee

Weather and Gear:

After two winters in Skåne, the most important thing I have learnt is to make sure I am fully prepared as I head out the door in the morning when it's still pitch black and blowing bitterly cold winds. When I know I'm going for a morning run I will get everything ready the night before, and this starts with checking the weather so I know what to take out. At first I thought winter running was just putting on a fleece and switching a cap for a beanie, but it didn't take long to realise that if the difference between plus 10 degrees and zero requires a shift in clothing requirements, so should the difference between zero degrees and minus 10. Once I know what the weather is going to be like, I get out all of the clothes and equipment I need for my run the next morning. Below is a rough table of what gear I get out depending on the weather. If it's a really windy day, then I switch out a t-shirt for a wool base layer.

I have acquired a few new pieces of equipment that are specific to winter running: 

- Fractel M Series Wool Beanie: for when the temperature is below zero to keep everything up top nice and cozy 
- Fractel S Series Beanie for everything between zero and plus 10 degrees for perfect temperature regulation
- Mittens: anything to keep the hands warm but mittens allow you to easily take out your hand to check your phone/watch or adjust anything with ease and slip right back into warmth
- Ice spike shoe attachments: Skåne tends to be very windy so the second it snows, the fresh layer is usually blown away leaving nothing but ice, if it weren't for these, winter running here would be impossible
- Reflective everything: by the time I get my run in, get ready for work and then commute, it's still dark an hour into my work day, so I try and have as much reflective clothing as possible to be seen when out on the roads and trails, especially when it's foggy or raining/snowing
- Waterproof shoes: I avoided these at all costs in Australia as my feet would sweat like crazy, but here when you are running in slush and it's frequently raining and wet on the ground, they come in handy

Prep the body, mind, buddy and coffee:

It's hard to go from waking up in a cozy bed in the warmth of indoors to increasing the heart rate in minus 10, so I find it important to prep the body and mind to ease the transition. I usually start on the floor and flow through a few different natural movements, some rolling, deep squatting and side bent sitting to warm up the body as well as some deep breaths to prepare mentally for getting out into the cold. 

Even after waking up early, warming up, getting all my gear on and having one foot out the door, there is another thing I have ready to ensure the second foot makes it out no matter the conditions, and that's getting my running buddy prepared to follow along. The night before I also take out Dash's harness, lead and light up collar. No one is more excited to get out of the house in the morning than Dash, our Border Collie that comes along for every run. Having someone to keep you accountable and encouraging you to get out the door is a massive help.

One last piece of preparation is putting on the coffee brewer before heading out. Nothing beats warming up the hands with a hot cup of coffee after a cold winter run! 


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