Why I love winter running

February 26, 2024

I definitely find that the topic of winter running is very easy at dividing a room. For some runners, the idea of heading out for a cold, wet run potentially in the dark can have motivation dwindling to the point that the front door never opens and the latest Netflix series takes the place of an evening run. The other faction of runners, the one that I undoubtedly belong to, could not be more opposed to this. Now don’t get me wrong if I could take running in 10-15 degrees in the sun every single day I would this would be ideal. The reality is as a UK-based runner winter running is something unavoidable so why not try and make it something to look forward to?

One of the great benefits of winter running is that it is far easier to regulate your temperature. As someone who is unbelievably sweaty even on the calmest of runs, winter running is a time for me to enjoy not getting back from every session gross enough to be considered a biohazard. Cooler weather also can be great for faster runs, I know for me that when the temperature is around 5-8 degrees I am probably going to run at my best. Much warmer than this and I am going to start overheating during a flat of effort and, much colder than this and my lungs are not going to thank me. With this in mind, I am rather lucky that the past few winters for the most part have been rather mild with plenty of days sitting within my ideal training window.

When it comes to rain there is nothing you can really do to avoid it other than avoiding a run altogether but where is the fun in that? No matter whether you don a waterproof or not you are going to be getting wet with even the best jackets causing their own issues with temperature regulation. For some reason running in the rain is something that I find deeply enjoyable and gives me a sense of connection to the earth that I struggle to find elsewhere. The added sensation of the rain on my face and the puddles underfoot aid my disconnect from my busy life and allow me to escape into a world of calmness. Running in the rain really does seem to serve as a form of active meditation for me.

Enjoying heading out in inclement conditions is not something that I have always enjoyed. I feel the need to make it clear that as a road cyclist, riding in the rain was something I actively tried to avoid. More often than not, if the forecast said that rain was on the menu I would find myself setting up camp on the indoor trainer rather than heading out on the roads. This got even worse when it came to racing. Wet races were never fun, limited visibility, less grip and plenty of crashes only increased my distaste for it. I share this simply to highlight that I am not some sort of rain worshiper who has always loved heading out in the rain but instead, something I have learnt to appreciate as a runner.

In my opinion, winter running is a runner's secret weapon. If you can find the motivation to get out for a run when everything is against you then come spring you will be a force to be reckoned with. Running through winter undeniably develops mental resilience that is hard to build elsewhere. The discipline it takes to stay consistent when all you want to do is find somewhere warm and cosy to snuggle up will come back to serve you greatly later on in the year.

Finally and quite possibly one of the reasons I love winter running is the kit I get to use. As much as I am always sad when the last weekend of October rolls around and the clocks return to their winter position there is also part of me excited to dig out my winter kit. No longer are shirtless runs in my sunnies on the table instead it is time to run by headlight and find my lugged winter shoes. Investing in kit that gets you excited to keep on training should not be discredited. Getting a head torch that allows me to comfortably run on my own at night around the trails of the Forest of Dean and Bristol carried me a long way into my winter training.

For those of us that cannot simply escape winter there is something that we can do, escape our hatred of it. I have learned that the mind is the most powerful tool for any runner. Training this to stay positive even through the toughest of winter runs will carry you to great things come the better months. My advice is to see winter running as a specific form of training that you can’t emulate elsewhere, with that in mind, make the most of it and don’t wish it away too quickly.

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