Dependent upon which hemisphere you reside in, this article will prove to be either quite pointless or rather useful – but given the stage of the year we find ourselves currently at (Spring/Autumn), we’re hoping that this may prove a little fruitful for you – Unless you live in Singapore that is! If you live in the UK, then it could be relevant either way given the UK’s summer is about as warm as a Sydney winters day. (Gloat over!).
But now that the clocks have gone backwards in the Southern Hemisphere, the shorter days and cold nights will soon be fast upon us. Despite my flippancy, believe it or not, it does get cold in Australia (just ask people in Melbourne) and yes it does snow (occasionally) – ask people in the mountains, or hills as we call them here.
So with that in mind, we thought it high time to remind ourselves of some simple tips ahead of those bone-chilling 10 degree Celsius nights that smash the Sydney-folk to pieces and keep the vast majority of fair weather runners locked behind doors for four months.
I am of course being facetious, but in the Blue Mountains and Victorian Alps, it can get rather cold on those early morning runs, so here are our somewhat (slightly) humourous tips for some good old-fashioned winter running – Australian style!
Stay Motivated – Often it can be very easy to ignore the cold outside and favour the warmth of your doona (Aussie for ‘blanket’) instead – we even have a term for it here in the Ultra168 running slang directory – “DOONA HEAVEN’ (can be paired with ‘Facebook Runner’) – The term used for a person whom at ease can perform the simple motion of rolling over from one’s bed and hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock. One can be described as being in ‘Doona Heaven’ if one fails to show for an early morning run where temps are hitting crazy lows of 6 or maybe 7 degrees C.
Despite your intrepid fears of freezing to death, it really isn’t that bad, so first up make a date. That is, arrange to meet someone for your run. If you commit to meeting someone, then you’re going to feel really bad if you don’t turn up – I think they call it accountability. Because once you’re out there, it only take five or ten minutes to warm-up and by the end of the session you’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about.
Proper Gear – Here in Australia we’re so used to simply donning a pair of shorts and some shoes for summer running that our brains almost miss-computes the requirements for winter running. There are of course races such as TNF100 to help guide us through the myriad of winter running gear. For those that really feel the cold, a pair of leggings is normally par de course. For those men wishing to go ‘Euro style’ with the 3/4 length pants, prepare for a barrage of comments that could range from outright dismay, through to which ladies race you’ll be entering next. If you’re female, then 3/4 length pants are perfectly acceptable and come as standard. But we’re all about equality here at Ultra168, so if you’re male and you chose to wear 3/4 length pants – then that’s OK with us…
Be Seen – This is actually a serious point for a moment. Wear reflective, fluorescent gear, and don’t be shy about lighting yourself up like a fairground, particularly if you spend a lot of time out on the roads at night. I know of runners that use a headlamp or carry a flashlight, not so much so that they can see where they’re going, but more so that people and vehicles can see them.
Weather – Deal with it! – Yes it’s cold and yes it might rain. Instead of thinking how awful the weather is and talking yourself out of a training session, use it as an opportunity to experience something different. Hailing from the UK, running in rain is a pretty commonplace experience for me. Coming to Australia and running in slightly warmer rain was quite the novelty. Indeed, any sort of cooling down aid in Australia is fun when the temperatures hit ridiculous heights. Therefore when it rains now, I take every opportunity I can to get out there. Just make sure you have plenty of anti-chaffing cream and apply it liberally. Don’t resort to using sandwich bags for places they shouldn’t be used – as I found out once in a race.
Watch the speed – In winter, the colder temps bring about colder bodies in that it takes perhaps a little while longer to warm those muscles up – particularly if you’re intent on carrying on with some speedwork during the colder months. If that’s the case, spend a bit more time than usual on your warm-ups, maybe don a few more layers as you trot around the oval thinking of all the excuses you can to not begin the sick-inducing session you’re about to unleash yourself upon. Failing that, just do it… you could even wear 3/4 length pants to help you through the session – good for the calfs we hear!
Stay Hydrated – It may be cold and dry outside, and you might think that your fluid consumption should decrease in the winter months but the fact is that you’re sweating almost as much fluid in the winter as you do in the summer. Sure you might be able to go slightly longer than on a boiling hot day in the middle of summer, but it’s also important to hydrate well after your run too, no matter what the temperature.
Move abroad – If you’re struggling with all of the above and the thought of stepping outside during the cold winter months fills you with dread, we hear Singapore is a good all-year round option for those who enjoy their weather ‘close’.
We hope you enjoyed our somewhat humourous tips for winter running. We hope we didn’t offend too many people.