Everything is wet, cold, dark, miserable, closed for winter and with icy roads, flooding and snow to contend with, probably trying to kill you as well.
The very idea that anyone would venture out there for exercise is even more baffling. But before you’re tempted to hunker up on a treadmill in a warm gym somewhere, let me try and convince you that outdoor running can actually be enjoyable:
1. Other people aren’t around
This is a big plus for me. Not just because I’m a social hermit with the charm of a butternut squash, but because people tend to get in the way. Summer is prime time for people to take to the country and mince around – on bikes, hikes, picnics, walking their thousands of uncontrollable dogs. Winter alleviates this somewhat, making for some serene, peaceful morning runs when everyone else is tucked up indoors.
2. Warm gear is your friend
If you dress right, there’s no reason running in the winter need be any more uncomfortable than summer running. I have the physique of a stickman, which means I feel a chill even when someone breathes near me, so I always wear thermal leggings, thermal tops, hat and gloves as well as two pairs of socks when necessary. Gloves are a godsend and great for keeping the chill off when charging headlong into an icy gale.
3. Give it time
The first mile or so will be quite awful. Your body hasn’t warmed up yet and you’ll feel stiff and ungainly. Every cell in your body will be urging you back toward the warm bed you inexplicably crawled out of, whilst the glow of cozy lights from passing homes will be unbearable. But, assuming you’ve paid attention to point 2, your body’s internal boiler will suddenly kick in - you’ll feel blood return to your extremities and you’ll feel like you could go on for hours.
4. English winters can be beautiful
I’m not going to try and convince you that skeletal trees, grey skies and mud are ever going to make it onto the Countryfile calendar, but you’ll get those rare, crisp mornings when the sky is as blue as your fingertips (see point 2), the dew hangs on the cobwebs like glass pearls and the frosty grass crunches under your feet and somehow, you suddenly don’t miss that musty old gym anymore.
5. You get to feel smug
“I’ve already been for a run this morning” you can say, hands on hips, with deserved superiority when the rest of the family wake up, bleary eyed and sloping around the house in their dressing gowns, complaining how cold it is.