Running outdoors is a passion of mine, but I must admit when winter sets in I usually turn to indoor activities.
But not this year. I’ve made an early resolution I’m going to keep on running.
I’m sure I’m not alone in the winter months, struggling to motivate myself to run outdoors. It’s cold and dark, and days at work seem more tiring.
As I usually run on my own, I decided to find a running buddy, partly to spur me on and partly to add to the fun and social side of things. A colleague from work is back running after a period of injury, so it is good for both of us.
I am also embracing the dark, treating each run as a mini adventure. So we can run offroad, I’ve invested in a good headlight. It’s exciting to see how different everything looks by moonlight. A little spooky but that’s all part of the adventure. The local lake looks stunning, a view I suspect many people rarely see.
The National Trust has also started a new initiative – an evening run at the Longshaw Estate in Debyshire – which I entered. So I had to keep on training! On the day of the race, it rained heavily with strong gusts of wind all day.
Luckily by early evening the wind had calmed and the rain was only a drizzle. However, it was still very muddy under foot, the terrain was difficult and I found it a tough 7.5k. It felt as if I had developed a talent for finding muddy holes – even the Trust staff asked for a photo of my mud splattered legs.
The results made it all worthwhile though. I had finished 13 out of 49 and second in the ‘female veteran’ category.
If you’d like to keep running in the winter, here are my top tips:
- Wear reflective clothing or arm bands.
- Take a mobile phone if you’re running alone and tell someone where you’re going and how long you expect to be.
- Invest in gloves and a buff – these are really versatile. I use mine as a beanie on my head to keep warm.
- Look for local runs in your area – these will help you stay motivated. As well as the National Trust events, try a parkrun. Although these aren’t in the evening, they are free 5k runs which take place every Saturday in local parks and open spaces. Joining an organised run is also a great way to make friends. And the topic of conversation will always be the weather!
I find the hardest thing is physically stepping outdoors on a cold winter’s night. But making the effort to step over the threshold is worth it. I soon warm up. Even if I only manage a short run, I feel proud of myself.
The feelings of wellbeing as a result of physical exercise are well documented. Physical activity releases endorphins which make us feel good. It helps to reduce stress and improves our mood.
For me, there is also a further sense of achievement in that I’ve braved the elements. I enjoyed my experience at Longshaw so much I’ve entered a second National Trust run in February. More reason to train!