The clocks went back last weekend, which signalled the return of dark and colder evenings. Personally I like running at this time of year: the air is cool and fresh – the perfect antidote to a day stuck indoors – and the temperature isn’t so cold that your nose feels like it’ll freeze off.
As well as my come back run on Monday this week, I have been out for a hill session on Wednesday, and a quick 4 miles in the dark on Friday evening. No niggles – hurray!!
Living up North has shown me a side to running that I never saw in Aussie: running in Winter. It’s a whole different beast to the long, sunny evenings we had just two months ago. In Summer, you’re concerned with staying cool and hydrated, but in Winter…. there’s the cold, rain, ice, snow, darkness, and did I mention the cold?
Last Winter, I had my first proper cold Winter in the UK. It snowed, and we had to grit our paths and everything. We were only a few short steps away from killing our own moose for food, and wearing their pelts on our head as proof of our hunting prowess.
Such a gorgeous view. Jealous?
Throughout this Winter, I kept my running up, clocking some pretty good miles. Unexpectedly, some of my best runs in the year were during the Winter. Here are my tips on how to handle running in Winter:
- Give yourself a goal. I signed up for the Brass Monkey race in January, which kept me honest over the Christmas period. On 26th December, it hit me that I had 13.1 miles to run in three weeks, which had me working off my turkey dinner long before I wanted to! Unfortunately the race was cancelled due to the ice, but the habit had been formed and I was out all Winter!
- Just go for one mile. If it’s cold and dark and you’d rather be indoors, just suck it up and get outside for 10 minutes. Hopefully as you come to the end of your first mile you’ll have warmed up and be in the groove.
- Layer up. Although it might be cold when you start, you will soon warm up so don’t overdress. I’ve found that 1-2 layers are more effective than one big, bulky item like a sweater. When I ran in the snow, I wore some Winter tights, a skin compression top, and a running fleece. A light wind-protector is a good idea, but you will get really hot in a normal waterproof.
- Accessorise! Now is the time to accessorise your running gear. Gloves and a hat will make all the difference when you’re out in the snow.
- Think Bright. As much of your clothing as possible should be reflective, or bright colours. Make sure you stand out among the elements!
- Plan your running. Make a schedule at the start of the week, and plan out time slots where you will run. This will make it easier to prepare mentally when the time comes: no matter what the weather, this is the time to run!
- Be soft like snow, not hard as ice. Your training will need to differ depending on what the weather does that day. Try not to be too rigid in what your training involves, as you’ll need to adapt to what you can do. It’s way better to get out there for something than attempt a doomed tempo run or something.
- Be careful. Don’t run on icy pavements. Snow is good, rain is good, ice is not! Trail shoes will help you grip in the snow.
- You WILL feel like a Boss. When you’re running in the snow, when no one else is brave enough to leave their house, and cars are stuck trying to drive up snowy hills, you will feel like a total bad-ass as you run past them all. That smugness alone will keep you warm, let alone your layers.
Snowy runs are my favourite because they’re so peaceful: it’s just your feet, your thoughts and the muted sounds of the snow falling. Plus, running in the snow does burn more calories, which can only mean more hot chocolate on your return!
Happy Winter running! Don’t let it get the better of you and you’ll start the Summer with a bang.