Snow in London today (ok, about four flakes, but still) and absolutely freezing cold. I was very glad that I’d got my long run in yesterday and that today dwas a designated “rest day” (by “rest” I mean “12 hour work shift”, there is no real rest in my life.)
I am very fussy with the weather when it comes to running. I am naturally a very cold person (I am writing this from a living room which is always heated to a minimum of 25c, and I have my thermal socks and dressing gown on). But I also find I heat up very quickly when running, and a run on a sunny day can easily turn into a walk. I find I have an unconscious mechanism in my brain that tells my legs that they MUST stop doing this running thing, as overheating will occur. I’ve tried reasoning with my legs and just gritting my teeth and running through it, but to no avail. I ran the Hackney Half Marathon in a minimalist sports bra, clutching a frozen water bottle, but I still only made it eight kilometres in before I had to walk. It is no coincidence that I get all my worst times in summer, and that all my personal bests have been set on a day when it is pretty much exactly 10c.
Even though I spend most of the summer looking forward to the months when it is cool enough to run, it doesn’t seem to stay in that happy 10-15c spot for long. There is a very fine line between too hot and too cold. Right now it is too cold. Too Cold doesn’t matter so much when I am running, since I radiate heat from the inside. It has to be less than freezing for me to go out in long sleeves – I have, in fact, taken part in a trail run in Huddersfield in December in a short sleeved top. But when I stop moving, that’s another matter. Stopping for water is a perilous affair, and once I get back to my flat, the inner radiator which has prevented me from feeling the cold on my run flicks off, and I feel how cold my fingers are, and sit and shiver for up to an hour before I feel normal again.
But the worst thing about running in the cold isn’t the cold itself. It’s the fact that it is impossible to travel anywhere in your running gear alone, so you have to start running the second you leave the house and run all the way back to your house. This makes for some extremely repetitive running routes. In summer I go all over the place – Southend seafront, Richmond Park, Hampstead Heath for example. In winter it’s Tottenham Marshes. Maybe as far as Walthamstow Marshes and even Hackney Marshes, but one east London marsh is much like another. And there’s no possibility of cutting a run short or hopping on the bus home, because it’s too cold to stop. An injury on a cold run would probably mean collapsing miserably on the towpath, freezing to death and having your body eaten by grey herons.
I will leave you with some of my favourite weather related running photos.