While some people might shy away from donning their trainers in the colder, wetter months, many others think there’s nothing more invigorating than a run in the autumn or winter.
Provided you’ve got the right equipment, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy running outdoors year-round, rain or shine. In fact, with so many people affected by seasonal affective disorder due to the lack of sunshine in the wintry months, running ought to be actively promoted; it is, after all, a ‘pick-me-up’ that can improve mood and boost confidence.
Not only does it make people feel better, it can also ward off colds – another great reason to keep running. Plus anyone can do it, just about anywhere and with minimal kit. That said, exactly what do you need for a successful run in autumn or winter?
Undoubtedly, there will be times during these seasons where the ground surface is slippery; whether it’s slick with fallen leaves, thick with mud or just splattered with puddles. Therefore, it is essential that you have good footwear that provides an adequate grip, keeps your feet warm and supports them. Some shoes are designed specifically for wet weather, incorporating waterproof materials and a longer-than-normal tongue, to give that added extra bit of protection against splashes. A pair that features reflective elements will help you to be seen in the dark, so don’t be afraid to go Day-Glo®!
It’s a good idea to do some research before buying a pair of running shoes to ensure that you choose some that are appropriate for the type of running you will be doing – that is, trail running or a slow jog around the block. If you’re serious, then don’t buy off-the-shelf but go to a specialist retailer who can find the right shoe based on your running habits and style.
It will be cold when you start out but, as any seasoned runner will attest, you’ll soon warm up once you reach a steady pace. Consequently, the best option is to dress in layers. That way, you can maintain a comfortable body temperature, shedding and adding layers if or when required. Experts recommend breathable, wicking clothing that allows for heat regulation while letting the sweat ‘out’ and keeping you dry. Wearing three layers is generally accepted as providing the best protection.
Your outer layer, preferably a lightweight jacket, should do just this while battling against the elements. Waterproof jackets are fine, but without the ‘breathability’ features, the warmth will make sweat evaporate and leave you sticky and uncomfortable. Therefore, look for vents under the arms or perhaps a mesh lining, if you must have a lining at all.
The middle layer – probably a t-shirt – needs to be wicking also, removing moisture from the base layer, which usually sits right against the skin. This combination will ensure that you remain dry and warm.
Other essentials include waterproof, yet breathable gloves, socks and a hat. For those that tend to overheat, a pair of fingerless gloves will allow the fresh air to circulate a little and leave you with just enough grip to change the song on your iPod®.
Talking of which, you might like to get a protective casing for your MP3 player/phone if you are using it on your run. There are many varieties of armband available that allow you to run hands-free but you may need to invest in a waterproof adaptor to safely plug in your headphones. Alternatively, consider some Bluetooth® headphones; a concept that is still to fully burst onto the running scene.
Of course, safety is key and it’s not a good idea to wear your headphones if running in the dark or along quiet routes; runners are vulnerable and need use of all of their senses, so at the very least, keep the volume low.
Running at this time of year will probably mean that you are ‘up and at ‘em’ before the sun rises or after it sets, so you should take care to adopt some safety measures and keep safe. Use reflective clothing – lightweight running jackets often have reflective seams, panels or are brightly coloured. Try and keep the reflective elements to the moving parts of your body, as you’ll be easier to spot. The best option is to buy a fluorescent running bib.
While motivation might slowly ebb away as the year progresses, with the right kit you could be enjoying a safe and energising run on even the most damp, dull morning. Don’t put this hobby away into a cardboard box until springtime; tie on those extra-grip trainers and get going; you’ll feel great for doing so.
Did you enjoy this article? It originally appeared on the Ordnance Survey magazine – read more articles here.