Why Winter Running Is Actually Okay, Seriously…

The unthinkable has happened. Our beauty features editor, Jess Lacey, has become a night runner. Swapping her evening TV ritual for a bracing run and all because of a pair of shoes. But could this exercise routine work for you? Jess investigates...

So get me. I was invited to the Nike store to design my own shoes. Perched on a stool in front of a galactic-sized computer screen, I created every inch, every feature to my liking, right down to my name on the tongues. A triple layer water-repellant mesh, micro-fleece panels and (my absolute favourite part) a hidden leopard print light reflective panel that flashes up when car lights catch it. Safety just got sexy.

Turns out I’m not at all special and everyone can do this as part of Nike’s new Flash Pack Footwear collection either on Nike.com or in their nearest Nike Town store. My Nike Free 5.0+ Shields cost £90 but you can go as fancy as you like.

They sat in their box for weeks but it was the perfect storm of the final episode of Breaking Bad and my creation arriving in all their day-glo glory that made me lace up and head out. Simultaneously facing my two greatest fears (exercise and the dark), I hit the pavement for the first time in months and it felt great. The cold actually helped because I could wear baggy layers rather than brave the exposing nature of lycra and the dark meant I didn’t feel every person I passed was staring at me. Now I’m heading out three times a week, only for half an hour mind, but I feel so much healthier (and smugger) for it.

For me it took the thrill of new shoes to get out there again but I want to keep to it so I asked running guru Steve Mellor, fitness and nutrition expert at Freedom 2 Train to give me some pointers as to why night running is the new TV.

So, what’s so great about running?
Running burns more calories than most forms of cardio and uses a higher percentage of muscle mass, so you get a full body blast from finger tip-to-toe. Also, the body keeps eating through the calories for up to 36 hours after running, especially if you throw some sprints in there too.

Why night running?
Running at night clears your head and gives your brain a re-boot. The increase in blood flow to the body and brain you more relaxed and content for the rest of the evening. It has also been shown that when people are exercising regularly they’re more likely to make healthier eating choices, meaning you’re less likely to ruin a good run with a large piece of chocolate cake or glass of Chardonnay! Just be sure to run where there are streetlights for safety and so you can see your footing.

What if you’re a first-timer?
The key is to be progressive with your training. If you jump straight into a five-mile run after six months of nothing then you will be limping the next day, regardless of how great the post-run high is. Regular and steady increases in time and distance are best. It’s also great to have a light week of training in every month, this is called periodisation and it’s what the athletes do in a very scientific way. Ironically, rest is when your body gets stronger and fitter

Can we have some running technique tips please?
Go for high intensity intervals; keep it fast but try to keep it to no more than 1:2 ratio of work:rest, meaning if you sprint for one minute you should rest for a maximum of two minutes. Don’t forget to update your playlist regularly to keep motivation high.

What should you wear?
Always go for layers, they keep you warm and stop you over heating if you go for a lycra base layer. I also believe a pair of running gloves and hat are key. There is no such thing as bad weather for running, just inappropriate clothing. 

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