Cool runnings: How to run outside when it’s cold
Many people set themselves a new year’s resolution related to running. Some aim to run for the very first time, some aim to run further, some faster and others more often. In the New Year’s Day haze this seems like a great idea, and many will make a great start to their resolution. After a few weeks of keeping to the routine however, the cold, dark weather will becomes too much of a barrier for many, and the trainers will get buried in the back of the cupboard. If that sounds familiar, read on for a few tips to help you keep your running mojo until the weather makes the thought of going for a run more appealing.
If you’re like me and hate being cold, layers are really the key to making running more tolerable when temperatures are low. When it’s bitterly cold I run in a sports bra, sports vest, long-sleeve sports top, long running leggings, running fleece (like this) and either a cycling body warmer or a waterproof running jacket if it’s raining. As well as that I wear running gloves and a fleecy hat. That’s the only way you’ll get me running when it’s cold out there, although I do know people who go out in far less than that. My theory is I’d rather go out in loads of layers and need to take some off while I’m out (which rarely happens to be honest!), than not wear enough and be cold and thoroughly miserable.
Invest in some trainers suitable for the type of running you’re going to be doing. If your route involves cross-country running, it’s well worth investing in a pair of trail trainers (like this) to help grip the muddy ground. Also, by having a pair of trainers specifically for running you won’t mind them getting filthy as much as you would if you knew you’d have to get them cleaned up before you can wear them to the gym or to an exercise class.
Feeling safe when you go out running in the cold and dark will remove another potential barrier. Make sure you can see and be seen whilst out running in the dark by getting yourself some fluorescent running gear, or even just a cheap high-vis jacket like this. A head-torch (like this) is a good idea and you can get running gear that lights up now, like these gloves.
If you really don’t enjoy running in the cold it can be a great idea to take your mind off of it by listening to something you do enjoy. You could even utilise Gretchen Rubin’s ‘Strategy of Pairing’ by only allowing yourself to listen to something you like while you’re running. Examples could be particular playlists, podcasts or audio books. This will not only take your mind off of running, but will also add another incentive to your running session.
Don’t wait up
Don’t delay your run. I have learned that whatever I tell myself, I will very rarely undertake an exercise session at any time other than first thing in the morning. As the day goes on I will get bogged down in other tasks and find a whole host of reasons why I can’t go. I have to go at my first available opportunity or I just won’t go. If you plan to go in the morning lay your stuff out the night before so you can just throw it on and go out the door before you’re even properly awake and have time to talk yourself out of it. If you plan to go later in the day again make sure your stuff is all laid out or in a bag ready, so that you can head out at the first available opportunity.
Having an accountability partner (or group) helps many people keep to their intention to run. The thought that you’ll be letting others down if you don’t go can really make the difference between keeping to the habit of running or not. If you don’t know other people who run, or are worried you’ll pair up with someone who is of a different ability to you, turn to the internet. There are so many running groups out there, covering a huge range of abilities. I know many have had a great experience with ThisMumRuns and if you’re a mum who lives in my village of Timsbury check out this group I set up a few years ago. Use these resources to find others who are of a similar ability to you and who are looking to run when you are. Finding a community of runners won’t only mean that you’re more likely to go for a run, but that you might make some new friends as well.
Signing up to a running event can be a great way to ensure you keep running regularly. Knowing you’re going to have to complete a certain distance on a set date can make you far more likely to get out the door. There’s such a wide variety of events to choose from. Not only is there a huge variety of distances to choose from, but also there are different terrains, times of day (i.e. night runs) and obstacle races. Some races are aimed at keen runners intent on smashing PBs, while many others are just designed to be a fun way of getting fit and getting outside. Choosing one that is in the not too distant future will make you far more likely to stick to your intention of running.
If you prefer to run on your own, as many people do, you can still hold yourself accountable by scheduling your run in your diary or calendar, as you would any other appointment. This will make it less likely that you will commit to something else during the time you intent to go running, and writing your intention to go running in black and white also means your more likely to go.
Don’t let your kit be a barrier to your run. Wash it as soon as it’s dirty so that it’s clean and ready when you next plan to go. It can be all too easy to talk yourself out of going because an element of your kit is in the wash. If you’re not likely to be able to turn it around before you next plan to go, buy yourself some extra bits. You can get some great affordable sports gear in places like Sainsbury’s, M&S, TK Maxx and Sports Direct.
There are so many ways that you can utilise Strava to make running more interesting. You can earn awards from completing parts of your route (known as ‘segments’) faster than you or others have before, can upload your route, discover new routes and you can show your friends that you’ve been for a run. You can also join teams or challenges on your own or with friends. It really is a brilliant app that lots of people get great value out of. Just don’t cheat by driving your route to achieve a PB.
I hope those tips help you enjoy running during the cold, dark months. Please let me know if they inspire you to get out there, and I’d love to hear of any other tips if you’re willing to share them.