We can avoid it no longer – winter is closing in fast. And I bet you’re just getting into your running stride after a summer’s worth of training aren’t you? You’re starting to feel comfortable on those longer runs, you’re looking forward to some hill repeats at the weekend – OK, I took it a bit too far there. But you get the picture, now that running has become habit all that rain, snow and wind is threatening to interrupt you and ruin your fun.
Whether you’ve been running for years, months or are just starting out winter can be really off-putting. But as long as you prepare with winter running gear you’ll be fine and, if you’re weird like me, you might even prefer getting out in the cold. Before you set out you’ll be thinking “Wow, my legs are actually going to freeze off”. In reality you’ll warm up pretty quickly so try not to over-dress.
You might have heard the term base layer before but not really understood what it means. Simply, it’s a snug fitting, lightweight layer which wicks moisture away from the skin, keeping you warm and comfortable. You’ll definitely need some sort of windproof jacket for the UK winter. This outer layer will need to be loose fitting and ideally a full length zip to help you control airflow and temperature. If it’s really cold you could also bung in a middle layer, something loose fitting and moisture wicking would be best.
It’s no revelation that your legs do a lot of work when you’re running. They will, to an extent, keep themselves warm so you don’t need to layer up like with your top half. Have a choice of capris or full length leggings (both in a sweat wicking fabric) to suit the milder and colder days respectively. If it’s really cold you might want to opt for something fleece lined to fight off the frost.
The likelihood is your feet are going to be splashing through some puddles. Unfortunately waterproof running shoes aren’t really practical – they keep the sweat in as well as the rain out. Your best bet is to find a pair with a lot of grip to deal with any iciness and really good ventilation so they dry out quickly. You’ll also need some sweat wicking socks, can you see a theme yet?!
My nan always said to keep my head and hands warm, turns out she was bang on. Hats and gloves are brilliant for the beginning of your run to stop you losing too much heat too quickly. You can always take them off and stuff them in pockets as you settle into the session if you feel like you’re starting to overheat.
There are fewer and fewer opportunities for running in daylight as winter sets in so you need to make sure you can be seen. Hi vis jackets and patches are brilliant, as are glowsticks (you can get a pack of 20 for about £1). You might also want to get a small LED torch which you can stash in a pocket, just in case – bike lights are perfect.