Run in the snow . . . because you're worth it
Working up the courage to get out in the icy cold may be the same old struggle every year – but just do it
Surely it’s too dangerous to run in the snow? Would it be better if I wait until the weather improves before I start out running? Mrs O
Some of you have got it already, for others it is in the post – snow and all its accoutrements: slush, ice, a smattering of sleet and travel mayhem, to name but a few of January’s blessings. It is all too easy in the face of such brutal weather to postpone one’s good intentions of shifting all that Crumb lard from January to February (when no doubt those intentions will promptly be adjourned until spring). You know the story. We have all been here before. We are here every year.
It is never better to wait until one’s circumstances have improved before taking the relevant action, whatever that may be. In your case, perhaps it was a New Year’s resolution to start running and in the mild early days of January it all felt possible, but now doubt has settled into your soul along with the snow. Well Mrs O, I have good news: all you need is some grit and a sense of humour and you can continue with your running plans, whatever else is going on in your life, snow included.
Tips for uber gritty winter running, whatever the weather:
Don’t try to make it all fun. It is not. You will fail if you try. Fun is what you can have when you get back from your run.
Assume your motivation to do this will be below zero. Ignore this brutal truth, lace up and go anyway. Any motivation you may have will be experienced retrospectively. You will want to go again because of what you got out of it the last time. Trust me.
Get your clothing right. Waterproof and even windbreak outer layers are ideal. I have a black “anoesia” type item for my top half that I bought from a specialist running shop. It covers my head, a lot of my face, my neck, my hands and regulates my body temperature. It is brilliant for running in all winter conditions. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have one. (I look utterly absurd wearing it, so it’s not an item I would recommend for the vain or, indeed, the single.)
A Beenie, lightweight scarf and gloves will do just fine but head, neck and hand coverage are essential throughout winter. We all know that the first 10 minutes of every run is hellish, whatever the weather. But in January, those first 10 minutes are where hell goes to self-harm: icy wind, snow, rain or sleet (possibly stay indoors if it’s hailing) biting around your head, face, neck and ears. It is beyond brutal and an entirely unnecessary grit add-on, so do dress appropriately.
Wear two pairs of socks. This has such a positive impact on the whole experience it warrants its own bullet point. Two pairs of socks has the effect of making your feet feel so warm and toasty in comparison with the rest of your body that it provides a welcome distraction during those first 10 minutes while the rest of your body acclimatises. I really focus on my feet, marvelling at how warm they are, like little radiators, and I envisage them spreading heat up into my legs and ultimately throughout the rest of my body. After 10 minutes I am warm all over and the rest of the run is a pleasure . . . ish.