Friday, 27 September 2013

Suck It Up Princess: Banishing Autumnal Excuses

At the best of times, I’ve heard the lamest excuses for not running.

With October approaching, the days getting shorter, air cooler and weather more unpredictable though, people seem to becoming increasingly quick and creative with reasons not to don their sneakers. Truth is, however, that even if dark evenings and a bitter chill is forcing us to cut workouts short, they’re still worth doing. Get out there and brave the elements.  What doesn’t kill you...well, you know the mantra.


One of the most common myths is that running in the cold and rain will make you ill. Wrong.  Hanging around indoors and mingling with sniffly people is actually more likely to promote the spread of bacteria than getting chilly ears or wet feet now and then. 

In fact, the oxygen supply you get from the fresh winter air might even boost your immune system and stave off illness altogether. 

Just make sure that when you do head outdoors, you wrap up properly and warm up your muscles. Invest in some breathable gear and work with layers so that you can adjust during your workout cycle.  If you’re cold you’re more likely to be stiff and prone to injury. 

Make sure you keep toasty during your warm-up and cool down but don’t overheat during the main part of your workout. Sweating too much could make things very uncomfortable. Experiment with headbands and gloves too. Some people like them, others don’t. Nike does some excellent lightweight winter running gear.

Importantly, also make sure that you change into clean, dry clothes as soon as you finish your run. Have a warm shower, a hot drink, hydrate and get some protein and carbohydrates into your body. You know the drill. 


Admittedly, finishing work at 7pm in the winter is a bit like finishing work at 9pm in the summer. So yes, I agree that a two hour run is the last thing you want to do when you finally trudge out of the door into the pitch black city on a dreary November evening. But don’t let it put you off altogether.


Focus more on faster shorter runs during the week, and save the long runs for weekends before sundown. Or if you really can’t convince yourself to run outside, head to the gym for a treadmill workout.  Use the incline function to challenge yourself or cross train on the elliptical trainer, rowing machine or bike. Do some strength exercises, core work or attend a class. If you’re feeling congested, head to the steam room or sauna and follow up with a cool shower. Stimulating your circulation will also boost your immune system.

Even if all you can only manage is a 20 minute session, do it! Every little helps and you’ll feel great for it afterwards. 


At the risk of sounding like your mother, safety should be your prime consideration if you do decide to hit the roads for an evening run during the dark months.


It may be wise to change your route to remain in more populous and well-lit areas, especially if you’re running alone. You should also always carry a phone with you. Not only will it allow you to call for help if you get in trouble or injure yourself, but it can also be used as a handy tracking device for friends and family.


There are tracking apps available for most types of smartphones these days which you can download and use to allow certain people to see where you are at all times. They can easily be active and deactivate it when you get back and many are free for iPhones, Blackberrys & Co.


Needless to say – whether you have a tracking device or not - you should always tell at least someone when you head out, where you are going and when you intend to be back. Even if you know the area like the back of your hand, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.




One of the best ways of keeping bugs that may interrupt your training regime at bay is by stocking up on vitamins, minerals and nutrients.


I’m no doctor but from my own experience, I’ve found vitamin C supplements and Echinacea to be particularly affective in battling runny noses and sore throats.


To up your energy levels during the dark season, ensure you’re getting plenty of vitamin D. We naturally absorb vitamin D from sunlight, but overcast sky and short days means that we might not get the exposure we need between October and February.


And as always, make sure you get ample protein and carbohydrates pre- and post-run. You’re likely to burn even more calories in cold weather so opt for full-fat milk, plenty of seeds and nuts and why not swap that vin chaud for a hot chocolate?


No one like’s running with a hangover anyway.

(Image courtesy 

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