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How to Survive Winter Running

I am here to celebrate the joys of winter running. I know it’s cold and dark and rainy, and no I am not superhuman. I do have a job, I keep house, I have a boyfriend and other things I like to do.

Yes I know you all probably like to exercise in the summer and spring but just let me try and sell it to you? If you don’t like it you can go off and drown yourself in hot chocolate.

 

It’s cold!

 

My dad is a boxer and when I was a teen he used to take me with him to the gym. It was a really run down place with absolutely no central heating and utterly freezing in the depths of the winter but I used to watch the men with condensation coming out of their mouths batter their bodies and each other senseless just to keep warm.

After a while I picked up a skipping rope and guess what? You work harder when it’s cold. These days fancy gyms will having the heating cranked up and have you sweating before you’ve even stepped on that treadmill whereas outside you have to burn a lot of calories before you even get a rosy glow.

 

It’s dark

 

I used to think that running in the dark was dangerous, even if it was only 6pm but try it and you will notice quite a few other runners. Wearing high visibility clothes, sticking to busy, familiar routes and carrying your phone will make you safer. Try to avoid tree lined roads with drives though because it turns out that no amount of reflective gear will stop you almost being hit by a reversing car!

 

The weather

 

When I first took up running for my half marathon training the schedule was so tight I had to go out no matter what the weather just to keep up with it. This involved me running in the pouring rain without special rainproof clothes and let me tell you those things are worth the extra money just so you don’t have to drag the extra weight around.

My ex marine buddy took me out in treacherous ice pointing out that it sharpens your reflexes and makes your steps more cautious. I wouldn’t really advise this to anyone as dancing behind him over giant black ice patches almost gave me a heart attack but it did make other running seem easier.

 

Snow

 

I love running in the snow! If you haven’t done it you must at least try it. Do you know running in the snow takes almost as much effort as running on sand? That means that you’re doing twice as much work with the same distance. Add in the cold factors and this means that you really have to keep moving all the time.

Jogging around a snow filled park is so pretty, it’s usually also really quiet because all the saner people are wrapped up at home. Yes your feet freeze if you stand still and your fingers go kind of numb but trust me it’s worth it to have the joy of bounding through white blankets of mush.

 

Clothes

 

The sports gear that comes out this time of year is lovely and does some really nifty things. Base layers are important if you want to stop your temperature dropping from sweat and running leggings are great for keeping you warm. I have a friend who swears by her running gloves which enable her to still go out in shorts and a t shirt.

If you are asthmatic make sure you run with a scarf and everyone should indulge themselves in a cheery woolly hat. Remember that you are going to warm up though so thin layers are best but when it’s snowing I find nothing better than pulling on a woolly jumper to attack the chill.

I do hope at least one of these reasons might have piqued your interest. Aside from the exercise I also run for the headspace so the fact that it’s quieter out there the colder it is really works for me. My iPod contains special winter running mixes with electronic dance music just perfect to help my brain float away.

So go on, get out there and see if jogging past a row of houses with their twinkling decorations doesn’t make you feel smug and warm all at the same time.

 

— More great tips from one of our amazing readers!

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