February. It's the hardest month of the year. Even getting out of the house and to work is a chore. But if running was one of your New Year resolutions and you have stuck to it, well done. Or perhaps you're a regular runner or training for the marathon. But even if you are keen, as temperatures plummet so does the enthusiasm.
As a seasoned runner who gets withdrawal symptoms if I don’t get my endorphin hit every couple of days, even I find it difficult to leave the house when it’s dark and cold outside.
When I first started I would find any excuse not to go. A drop of rain? No thanks. Frost on the ground? Too slippery. Heat wave? Where’s the shade? But over the last few years, I've found that it is possible to keep going no matter what the weather, and I have learnt what to wear to keep my exercise regime going during the coldest months of the year.
Now I didn’t say it was easy, but here are my 8 essential tips on getting out and about during the colder months, as well as the best winter running gear to keep you going, EVEN when the thermometer says freezing...
1. I check the weather the night before and plan my outfit accordingly. It’s a bit like planning my Fashion Week, but with more Lycra. Any hint of rain and I set my alarm clock an hour later. Cold I can cope with, but I HATE running in the rain.
2. I put everything on the radiator the night before. Getting out of bed and into warm clothes is much more appealing and keeps your core temperature warm before you leave the house. Reminds me of being back at school when I did the same with my school uniform.
3. Proper winter running leggings are a must. Previously, anything under 5°c and I wouldn’t go out... until someone revealed that these existed. It was my Eureka moment. So now my Sweaty Betty fleece lined thermal running leggings are my essential go-to (they are so comfortable and warm I am wondering when I can start wearing them to work!). No, they're not cheap, but they're worth every penny. Cost per wear and warmth and all that.
4. Layers are key. A bit like an onion. Depending on what the BBC Weather app says, I decide how many I need on the day. First is my base layer top from lululemon. The Swiftly Tech long sleeve is my favourite, and works layered or on its own when it gets warmer. Keeps you warm but wicks away the sweat and wetness. And it doesn’t stink. Something to do with Silverescent fabric that has anti-odour properties - but that is too technical for me. As long as it works.
5. Keeping ears and fingers warm is crucial. Mittens are a must. The shared warmth of your fingers will keep them far warmer than gloves. A fleece band keeps my ears and top of my head toasty. No one said this was going to look stylish, but when it’s so dark outside I can’t be seen anyway. Plus, I run faster if I think someone may spot me. I found hats gave me spots - and no one wants that.
6. When it is REALLY cold, I find a lightweight sleeveless puff from Uniqlo keeps my core warm.
7. A lightweight waterproof jacket is perfect to keep out the chilly wind, and if you get too hot, you can take it off and tie it around your waist. Simple.
8. Final tip? Treat yourself to some new stuff. Its amazing how the thought of wearing something brand new - even if it's just a pair of socks - will help you get out of the front door.
Now that you’re toasty warm and raring to go, what actually are the perks of running outside in the winter?
For me, apart from keeping fit, it’s the peace and quiet, the beautiful light as the sun rises on a crisp frosty morning and noticing that the mornings are starting to get lighter and that spring is around the corner. Well worth getting up at 6am for.
Now Read: Arabella on how to survive a Plenish Cleanse.