Friday, 2 November 2012

Surviving the winter months

Here in England I love the different seasons, right from the cosiness of the winter through to the balmy days of summer.  And yet I find my mood can drop during the winter months, especially if it drags on for too long.  I could sulk my way through in a grumpy kind of way or do something about it.  If you read my blog you'll know I achieve this by running and cycling.

This year I am not looking forward to the winter at all.  Not sure why.  Could be memories of the last two winters that brought more snow and freezing temperatures than ever.  Could be thoughts of settling back into life here at home - just a few days ago we were enjoying the lovely climate of Spain and some brilliant runs.

This morning at 6.30am, just as daylight was starting to appear, I went out for my favourite 7.5 mile hilly run.  I loved it, my running form was reasonably fluid and I stormed up a short hill on my way back.  Cold but brilliant and in my thoughts I devised my strategy for surviving this winter.  Here it is:

  • Keep remembering how important exercise is; mentally and physically
  • "Deal with the winter weather Doug".  This is probably my biggest obstacle.  I hate running and cycling in the dark.  It is a problem and there to be solved.  Believe there is a solution, or solutions. 
  • Do NOT re-join DW Fitness Club (other than possibly taking advantage of a Christmas offer for a two week trial at a bargain price).  
  • Eat well - I think I have a pretty good vegetarian diet but it does mean a bit of effort to make sure I get everything I need.  Have some enjoyment in trying out some new things (and good blog material!). It also means not eating too much or allowing some weight to creep up.  My BMI is around 22 and that's where it's staying
  • Not to be afraid of spending some money if it means getting through the winter.  This is probably going to involve buying a turbo trainer to maintain cycling in those dark horrible evenings.  Could cost £100 to £200 but this outlay would last for years
  • Buy some proper winter cycling clothing.  Keeping warm on the bike is my biggest challenge.  I am sure getting the clothing right is important, even though I might look a bit odd in black cycling tights and Captain Kirk-style overshoes.  But these keep you warm and dry on the bike, so just what I need.  Start with gloves and a skull cap to fit under my helmet.
  • Be disciplined.  Make sure I exercise 5 out of every 7 days.  Even if it is just a 15 minute jog around our neighbourhood but ideally I need each work-out to be about an hour
  • Stay healthy.  I have already had a flu jab.  Man these make you feel awful a few days later, but that's done.  Only cost £8.00 at Sainsbury's and even better my employer will reimburse me for this - this is a cost effective of maintaining a healthy workforce.  Plus we have a KPI target for this and right now it's not looking too good.  So - I'm staying warm, avoiding flu, bugs and so on.  This also means not over training - pushing too far actually can lower resistance and our natural immunity
  • The countryside can be fantastic in the winter
  • Look forward to Spring.  I have already signed up for the 2013 MK Marathon in May and looking forward to that.  Running through the winter will make all the difference to coming in at under 4 hours. Earlier in 2012 I did that race and love looking back on it.  All more the reason to have another go.  Naturally I'll be another year older but faster for it.


  1. Hi, Doug I have just read this post and you sound just like me. I hate winter, get fed up really easy, dont like cycling when temp drops. My hands complain bitterly dispite wearing multiple pairs of gloves. I find running much easier and have just bought a petzl headtorch and am very impressed with it for running at night. It is the tikka xp2 and can be had for about £35-£40. Sorry if this sounds like an advert, I like reading your blogs and thought you might appreciate the info. Regards, Mark

  2. Hi Mark

    Now that's a good idea - a head torch - I even have one somewhere. By coincidence I think it's a Petzl. Got it a few years ago with a particular camping trip in mind and it's be used for various things since. Most useful was fixing a puncture in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. I hadn't though of using it for running butI think following your idea I will give it a go, so thanks again.