Monday, 12 December 2011

Cool running

Moving swiftly on from night runs to winter runs. Although this week's training has been a bit upset by the seasonal interferences of a bout of ill health and general festive family commitments I did make it out for a good session on Saturday morning. Normally I love a morning run, the earlier the better as the deserted streets are far easier to navigate than dodging pedestrian and vehicular traffic, but this morning it was freezing.

Luckily while I was away in New York I invested in a winter running jacket. I opted for the Brooks Utopia Thermal Hoodie, if I am honest mainly because I liked the colour, but also because I was hoping it would deliver warmth without the sweat factor. Because I am a relatively novice runner I have made several kit errors, including a horribly hot running fleece which heats up like a sauna the moment you break out of a walk.

The problem is that on a super cold morning the first 10 minutes of a run are so freezing that all you want to do is wrap up as if you were venturing into the Arctic, but as soon as your body begins to heat up you begin to swelter unless your clothes are smart enough to regulate your temperature as you get warmer. Thankfully my new hoodie did the job admirably. I was a bit cold at first, but 15 minutes in I was toasty warm, but not drenched in sweat. Clearly this purchase was not one of my rookie mistakes.

The same cannot be said for my running gloves which, while they are swanky with reflective paint to ensure that my hands are highly visible at night time, are totally useless at keeping my hands warm. I think I may have to revert to my skiing gloves if the cold snap continues as the skin on my hands is beginning to resemble sandpaper it has been so abused by the frozen temperatures.

But despite being preoccupied by kit thanks to the chilly conditions, once I had got over the shock of leaving my warm bed for the frozen streets I was able to really enjoy the run. Perhaps it was because I had had a few days off and felt pretty strong, but it was one of those runs where you feel as if you could go on forever, rather than wheezing your way around longing to be back home again.

I do love watching my breath stream out in front of me like steam from an engine, I love the crunch of frosty grass under my trainers and the stark beauty of the black branches rising above my head when I run off road. I love the wintery urban landscape of chimneys belching out steam and smoke into the city air. I love glimpsing into people's warm living rooms, seeing the twinkle of Christmas tree lights and the strings of cards hanging from their mantlepieces.

I think perhaps running has unleashed a slightly voyeuristic tendency in me as I do adore distracting myself by nosing around my surroundings. One of my favourite runs takes me past rows and rows of millionaire mansions and I always play the 'Which one would I buy?' game to keep me amused as I run past.

At this time of year there is no contest as my favourite is the one lit up like a Christmas tree - well actually like several dozen Christmas trees which are laid out in full white fairy light regalia on the front lawn. It has cascades of ice white lights dripping down its facade, colour changing lights picking out the white colonnaded front, a gate house glimmering with thousands of diamond bright points of light. It's not tasteful, but it sure does look pretty as you dash past.

It's treats like this that keep getting me out of bed on a cold morning. Well that and the fact that I hope that by continuing to run all through Christmas I can avoid piling on too many pounds due to the excess of mince pies, turkey and chocolate coins that lays ahead of me. I think the American idea of a Turkey Trot (as experienced by my friend and fellow blogger Nappy Valley Girl) is a jolly good one, I just wish there was one in my local area so I could jog off damage inflicted by the Christmas feast.


  1. Oh the joy of finding a form of exercise you enjoy, and being able to eat more than you otherwise would, with no guilt. Yesssss.

  2. Glad you're staying with it despite the cold. I find my 'inner gloves' from skiing are quite good - I would find ski gloves really sweaty, I think.

    We were just in California where I had my favourite run ever - all along the cliffs with seals lining the beaches. Loads of super-fit looking mummies with jogging strollers on the West Coast too.

  3. I do enjoy reading your blogs as they are entertaining and well written.
    Cycling this time of year is great for the fact that I can belt along (with there being less bikes on the road) and I don't get sweaty. My hands never used to warm up though and I'd get torturously achie chill brains. I now have some new gloves that are looser fitting and wind proof. If my hands were already cold, my old gloves would keep them that way as any heat couldn't circulate to my fingertips. Would mittens be good for you?