Running through winter: Gloves, cling film and other essentials

As we reach mid-February, runners up and down the country have a flicker of hope in their eyes that maybe soon, soon, spring will awaken in all its glory.

I actually quite like running in bleak weather. For a start, I live in South Wales so I have to embrace it, really. I love the remoteness and quiet it can bring, even in a city. Run in Welsh rain and you'll certainly come home feeling invigorated.

Another lovely day

This year, though, it's been different. The adverse weather conditions have been perpetual misery. It has made running, at best, a constant mental challenge. At worst, it's been treacherous and you seriously have to consider your safety. I've lost count of how many times I just wanted to grab some food and hibernate until the sun returns. We probably all have.

But we don't do that. We pull on our running kit, hold an hour-long parliamentary debate in our heads on how many layers we need, then open that front door and brave the elements once more.

We do it again, and again, and again. The sheer consistency of this foul weather has made spring race training just so hard. But we went out and did it anyway.

For everyone that has battled through the countless storms to see a bit of sunshine in February: give yourself a pat on the back, because what you have accomplished is absolutely brilliant.  I'm pretty proud of my training so far, and after race day I have made a promise to myself to have a real treat.

Winter runners, we have earned it.

Running this winter has challenged me in new ways, including my adaptability to stay warm, dry and safe. Here are some of the things I've been trying to get me through some of the toughest runs:

1) Cling film. Ah, where would I be without cling film? Well, without a phone because this cheap little trick kept my smartphone dry and usable on runs.

Cling film has saved my phone on many occasions

2) Gloves. During a particularly tough run on an exposed route, I realised my thin running gloves weren't cutting it as sharp tingles coursed through my hands - an early sign of hypothermia. I've since been testing two new pairs: eGlove XTREMEs and Nike Elite Storm Tech Gloves. Reviews on both coming soon.

eGlove XTREMEs

3) High visibility vest. I don't like running with a jacket, although I do have one - a Ronhill Vizion Storm. Problem is, this jacket is black - not great when I'm darting across roads in city centre rush hour. Because the weather been so bad that I had to wear my Ronhill, I decided to invest in a Nathan Streak hi-vis vest. It's given me added assurance that I'm seen as much as possible.

Testing the Nathan Streak running vest in the light and dark

4) Desert Island Discs. Sometimes a thumping beat gets me going, other times I need engaging conversation to keep me absorbed. A podcast about a gloriously warm desert island is perfect.

5) Find the bright lights. Running in the dark can be tedious, especially when you're limited to the same street-lit paths. But there's still scenery to be had, even in the dark. I love running around Cardiff Bay some evenings, where the architecture is just as stunning as on a sunny day.

The Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

6) Longer warm-ups. This has been one of the most important improvements in my training. As tempting as it may be to do a ten-minute warm up to get your run over and done with as soon as possible, 30 minutes of prep can make all the difference in staying injury-free on such cold runs.

So far this year, I haven't done a single treadmill run. I'm not against treadmills, but with the January over-crowding at the gym, I've stuck it out on our wet, debris-filled roads - and just about survived.

We're almost there, guys. Spring is round the corner.


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