Winter: it’s dark by 5:30 and you spend your evenings wishing you had one of those power guzzling, fan-heaters. And as glorious as hibernating in front of a full season of streamed tv sounds, it’s not going to bring you that bikini body come summer. So fight the urge to merge (into your bedsheets) and clock some k’s on the pavement.
Now, because we weren’t designed to do bicep curls while cycling to the tempo of a spin class, these sort of activities can leave our legs and egos bruised . We were however, designed to run. For the uninitiated, running can be daunting, and in an age where people are led to believe we need a personal trainer to lift grocery bags, some of you may need a few pointers to get you started. Here goes.
First thing’s first, you’re going to need something to run in. Running is one of the least expensive sports to get into because all you need is light clothing and shoes. Now I’m assuming that you’ve at the very least exercised before and that you own some shorts or shoes, if not you may be beyond my help. Most shoes will do for the short amount of mileage you’ll be running to begin with but everyone loves accessories so if you are going to buy shoes DO NOT try and pound the pavement in Nike Free’s or New Balances bought at the mall. Of course these lines of shoes do have some appropriate runners but for the most part, the fashion over function will leave you very sore the next day. Go anywhere that stocks Mizuno and grab a pair from their WaveRider range; they’re excellent for beginners, and they cater to both sexes. Weather can be an issue in winter so wear gloves and a light long sleeved top. Always wear shorts. you can go for short or long spandex if you must but sweatpants are a restricting faux pas that make everyone look like they’re in a biggest loser commercial.
Treadmill running is about as boring as the television screen they put in front of you while doing it. Most people opt for running in a gym for privacy but what’s more anonymous: sweating beside fifteen people you see every other time you go to the gym, or running through a park past people you’ll never see again? Plus, few things are more exhilarating than running in the rain or even in a nippy climate. And don’t pile on the jumpers because you’ll be hot & tying them around your waist before the end of your street.
Don’t count the kilometres. Imposing a distance regime is the easiest way to lose heart in running, trust me I’ve tried the 120-160k’s per week thing out and hated myself. Head out on a run without setting any preordained goals. Click the stopwatch, run till you tire and head home, you can always walk if you don’t make it. When you have a time for a route, keep note of it and you will notice chunks begin to fall off your personal best. When you’re running comfortably, high tempo runs of 15-20 minutes or jogs of 30-40 minutes release the most endorphins to give you that fist pumping feeling afterwards.
Maybe you want to run twice a week, maybe you want to run five times. Twice is easy to manage, five could be ambitious, three works well for most beginners. Whatever your amount, consistency is key. The ol’ ‘I’ll skip today and make it up’ logic can be dangerous and will slow improvement. If you find it hard to run as many days as you want, then run for shorter times. If you do happen to miss a run, so be it, just pick up again on your next day.
When two roads diverge in a yellow wood, take the road not taken and mix it up a little. Running is an excellent way to see areas you might usually drive by without taking in, running in winter is an excellent way to explore these areas without rubbing shoulders with an army of 5pm joggers.
No kidding. If you’re new to being a pavement panther, this is going to hurt. But keep the tunes playing, your eyes forward and hone in on thoughts that distract you. After the first couple of weeks the aches will disperse and the movement will become natural.
WHY RUN IN WINTER?
Winter is a time when the grey matter feels greyer and the lack of vitamin D can make you feel a little down. Running is an excellent way to stimulate dopamine receptors and the aforementioned endorphins to brighten your day. This is true for all exercise but running trumps the typical contenders in the cold. The gym can feel like another cell to coop away in and wet or icy roads aren’t suited to the fledgling cyclist.
There is a lot more to know about winter running and a lot less that really matters. All you really need is to get out there and move your legs. Don’t let Game of Thrones fool you, winter’s nothing to be scared of.