Autumn is here. And winter is approaching.
So, as runners, what should we be thinking about for the months ahead? Here are a few thoughts we've had for dealing with the colder and darker days.
1. Wear clothing to keep you warm
As the temperatures fall, its worth thinking about covering up a bit more. Long sleeved tops, longer leggings, running jackets, gloves and head scarfs are all good investments.
Be aware that different people need different amounts of coverage in the cold. For various reasons some people don't need or like as much extra clothing as others. Just because someone else is wearing 3 tops, the thickest gloves and numerous scarfs doesn't mean you should do the same. Although, it may be a sign to cover up a bit more than usual. ;)
2. Dress to be seen
Often, there isn't enough daylight as we'd like. This can lead to many runners starting or finishing their runs in the dark.
Wear clothing that will help you get noticed. This can involve any or all of the following :-
a. Bright colours
It's no accident that yellow is a popular colour for winter clothing. Bright orange, green, blue etc will also help make you visible.
b. Reflective materials
Clothing that contains reflective material will help make sure you're seen by cars, cyclists and other fast moving vehicles.
c. Wear lights
As for cyclists having a light will helps avoid injuries, especially off-road. When there are no street lights, a light source will drastically reduce the chance of coming off second best to tree roots, potholes, discarded items, and the like. Convenient examples include head torches and clip-on lights that can be attached to belts backpack, etc.
3. Choose suitable training venues
As the days get shorter and the chance of ice gets greater, it may be time to move your training to more suitable venues.
A slight change can drastically reduce the chance of injury. Below, are 3 possibilities :-
a. Running machine
This is, for some, the least attractive option. Going inside, to a very artificial running environment does not appeal to everyone. However, the warm well-lit environment is probably the safest option available.
b. Running track
A fairly appealing option for many runners. Typically maintained by local authorities, with good lighting and minimal (not zero) chance of icing over, this is a good option for safety and convenience.
c. Grass or sand
For some the easiest option is to move off the pavement and on to grass. Or if you're by the coast, on to the beach. Lighting may be a concern, but icy paths will not be a worry.
4. Run with a friend / group
If you only have time to go running when its dark, it may be worth joining a group. Running with others will offer a few advantages. As well as deterring harassment, more eyes will help everyone avoid any hazards hidden by the dark. Also, the social element will inspire effort despite the cold.
An excellent option is to run at your local Parkrun on Saturday mornings. These friendly and cost-free events are considerate of the shorter days (starting later in Northern Ireland and Scotland) and are typically within easy travelling distance for most of us.