New season, new kit

The evenings are now noticeably darker and the morning’s are much, much cooler. Most of my runs in the last couple of weeks have been in the drizzle, my last parkrun was quite slippery, and I’ve started carrying bike lights with me wherever I cycle to avoid being caught out by that sneaky winter twilight.

That all said though, I do really love running in the autumn and winter. I first took up running in August 2010 when training for a 10K race in October, and so the shortening of evenings and cooling of temperatures actually feel more like a new season starting than a season closing. It’s difficult to explain what I enjoy so much about running in the winter – after all summer running is such a joy – but I have managed to pinpoint the following three reasons.

1. Choosing to run in the pissing rain/muddy hills/gale force winds/blizzards/foot deep snow/week-old frozen snow (I have done all those things over the last two winters) kind of reaffirms your love of running. When the heavens open on me halfway through that out-and-back tempo run, no matter how close I am to a bus stop my first thought is usually: “I’m already wet now, so may as well keep going.” And, as I run home, soaked to the bone, I’m chuffed at the realisation: “I must really like running to put up with this shit.”

2. For every passerby that thinks you’re mad, there is one that thinks you’re awesome. Ok, I have no evidence that this is true, but I like to think that the weird looks that you get while running in the above-mentioned hazardous conditions are looks of wonderment and awe. Inevitably this gives me a much needed ego boost to propel me home across the frozen snowscapes of London each winter.

3. WINTER KIT! Full length tights, long sleeved jerseys, waterproofs, windproofs, gloves, hi-viz detailing… End of summer seems to have become my annual kit renewal period. I’m not normally very frivilous, but as much of my kit is now over a year old I thought it was in need of replacing. Here is my shopping list, some purchased and some (subtley) added to my Christmas wishlist, along with some suggestions for cheap(er) places to purchase from.

Trainers

I was long overdue a new pair of trainers. My old pair of Nike Lunarglides were worn out after I had run well over 500 miles in them. I have previously embraced the purchase of new running shoes as an opportunity to try something new. What about some Adidas, some New Balance, or even some Brooks? I know that some runners love to try out new models and new brands, but equally there are those of us that fear change almost as much as we fear IT band problems. Unfortunately for me the last time I embraced change I did end up with IT band problems… So I stick with a trainer that I know works for me.

I love the Nike Lunarglides. Having previously run in their Lunarelite shoes (I bought these low profile shoes when I first started HM training purely because I liked how they looked) when my mileage was relatively low I bought the Lunarglides 2+s last year as they are more cushioned and have slightly more support – ideal for my flat feet.

What I love most about the Nike Lunar range is their dynamic support system. Each running brand has its own approach to minimising overpronation and supporting flat footed runners. Nike’s approach is to support the foot through its natural gait, rather than imprisoning it in a structured shoe. I have tried running in the Asic’s Kayano shoes, the go-to shoe for overpronators but found it too structured and suffered painfully for wearing them for 3 months. Lunarglides, I will never cheat on you again.

I bought the pink ones because I think they are awesome.

Full length tights

Last winter I ran in a pair of Asics full length running tights. They were about a tenner from Sportsdirect.com and were great – good kit doesn’t need to be expensive. But then I fell over while wearing them and ripped both the knees. This winter I treated myself to these fabulous cheetah print tights from Nike. At £35 they were actually pretty reasonable and I have been enjoying the compliments they get at parkrun.

I wear a lot of Nike because I love the way they fit and have found their kit to be really great quality and durable. These tights look fantastic (if you’re going to go out in public in lycra, you may as well embrace the ridiculous), the quality of the fabric is incredible, the deep waistband is flattering and comfortable while running, and they wash beautifully. However, the damn things have no pocket. Details like this are super important – if they weren’t cheetah print I would have left these on the shelf.

 

Jacket

I’m going to put this out there: running jackets are naff. But if you have to own one, it should be polka dot.

I bought this jacket on sale last winter from http://www.achillesheel.co.uk (who incidentally not only have great sales, but also include free P&P with their orders) for less than half the oroginal price tag of around £70. Running jackets always seem to feel flimsy and useless, but this jacket has been brilliant. It offers a thin, windproof and showerproof layer that is not too warm (so you don’t spend your run wishing you could take it off) but offers excellent protection from bitter winds on winter runs. Better still are the magical polka dots. My old running jackets used to stick to my skin as soon as I got even slightly sweaty, which was really distracting during runs. The polka dots on the Nike Cyclone prevent this annoyance though. They are flocked on the inside of the jacket which (as I said before) act like magic to prevent  the jacket from ever sticking to you.

Unlike the running tights above, this jacket does have a pocket. It also has an excellent cut, a hood with good coverage, and plenty of drawstrings for custom fit. It is not however waterproof, but few affordable running jackets are. These jackets are now old season stock, so you may be able to pick them up cheap online.

Cross country spikes

I normally wouldn’t suggest buying second hand running shoes, but I have just boughta rather fun pair of yellow, Saucony cross country spikes from Ebay. They’ve only been worn a few times and, as there is virtually no cushioning in spikes to be squashed by previous owners, I snapped them up! £15.51 for a whole cross country season’s worth of fun – well that’s a bargain if ever I had one.
If the idea of second hand shoes creeps you out too much then check out some of these websites and pick up a pair of old season shoes for a fraction of the original price:

http://www.startfitness.co.uk
http://www.prodirectrunning.com
http://www.achillesheel.co.uk
http://www.sportsshoes.co.uk

Hi-viz

I don’t know anyone whose complexion suits fluro, but that’s no reason not to wear it. I never used to think that runners had to worry about wearing hi-viz and reflective kit – after all we are normally running on pavements and in parks where pedestrians can surely see us. But as a city cyclist I can tell you now – runners, you need to be more visible. You might think it’s safe to step off the pavement to run round that slow moving couple taking a romantic stroll home from the movies, but jogging just a couple of steps on the road could easily take out a cyclist, if not get you run over by a taxi. If you’re all dressed in black you are as good as invisible.

 

You don’t need to get new, expensive kit to be more visible. Fluro gilets, bibs, and arm bands are very effective and very cheap.

As I will soon be moving house again and cycling my commute to work though I have splashed out on a couple of bits of kit that can be worn for both running and cycling: a fluro yellow jacket by Karrimor, RRP £45, on sale in Sports Direct for £14.99 and bright yellow night capris, RRP £30, on sale for £20.99. I’m resisting the urge to wear them together…

Are you looking forward to training through the winter? And are you ready for those cold, dark evenings yet?

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