A spring in your step after running through winter

The poor weather is really just another excuse we give for avoiding the things we don’t want to do

Running outdoors is only really treacherous when the wind is bad. Photograph: Getty Images

Running outdoors is only really treacherous when the wind is bad. Photograph: Getty Images


Q It’s so cold and windy and treacherous out there, how on earth do you pluck up the courage to get outside and run in these conditions? All I want to do is curl up under a duvet on the sofa and wait for the weather to improve.


A With that approach Collette, the spring will be an awfully long time coming. Much like watching a kettle and waiting for it to boil, looking outside at the cold harsh winter hoping for the sun to shine again is probably the worst way to face January.

But I do sympathise. It is brutal out there. There is no doubt about it, it takes bucketloads of grit to tempt me out into the woods for my thrice weekly run these days.

The weather plays havoc with our lives, and makes a mountain of the molehilliest of jobs. I found myself in the throws of a “hurricane” this morning, just popping into Sainsbury’s with the twins and thought at various points walking up the hill that we were in grave danger of imminent death.

But needs must, and we all have to get to the supermarket right? Which is like saying that we will always manage to get those things done which we prioritise, whatever the weather.

Safety concerns
Right now is usually my running time – just after dropping the twins off at nursery, but it is so windy, and with driving rain, that I am genuinely concerned for my safety running in among the trees in Highgate Woods, which leaves me with two options.

One, the gym dreadmill – always my least favoured option but one I use a lot more frequently over winter. And highly recommended over sofa surfing for the overly weather-sensitive types.

Or two, gamble on the storm clearing up before my three-hour nursery window of opportunity is up.

I am going to risk the latter today and if it doesn’t work out, I will go to the gym tonight instead.

The important point is that there is always something physical you can do to keep or get fit, every day – whatever the weather is doing – because the weather is really just another excuse we give for not doing the things we don’t want to do.

After all, the rain or the wind is no impediment to a professional athlete’s training schedule? Or to a marathon taking place or the Rugby World Cup?

The truth is if you don’t want to do this thing – to exercise and get fit – then you will always find a “reason” why you can’t. It is not the weather that is your problem, but your attitude.

Running outdoors is only really treacherous when the wind is bad, so gale force winds and possibly hailstorms aside, all other weather conditions are runnable in my book.

And you will feel a million times better for having run in terrible weather, because you will have stuck two fingers up at January and worked up a sweat in a T-shirt, leaving the rest of the world still shivering in their sheepskins.

Need for a boost
It is always going to be harder to get out and run during winter.

We have to embrace and accept this and run anyway, not because we have something to prove, but because the awfulness of winter makes our need for those serotonin and endorphin boosts all the more keen.

Without running, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy all those hearty casseroles and shepherd’s pies and red wine and hot chocolates by the fire – nearly so much. Or maybe I would, but I’d have to pay for it with a spare tyre come spring.

Always bear in mind at the start of each day that the hours of sunlight are really short and so you must capitalise on the first window of opportunity that you get. And don’t ever expect to “feel” like going.

The bonus feature to all this winter grit is that come springtime you really will enjoy running because “enjoy” takes on a whole new meaning if you have gritted out regular winter runs.

On that note, my window has arrived and I’m heading out to the woods for mine.

The Grit Doctor says:
There is always a window of calm once the storm has passed. The key is to get up and use it rather than stare at it wistfully from the sofa.

Ruth Field is author of Run, Fat Bitch, Run and Get Your Shit Together.

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