My morning workouts now almost always start before the sun is out. Summer is officially gone and we’re deep into autumn with that winter chill not far behind. The training never stops, but the right kit will keep you going no matter what the weather gods may bring.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” – Sir Ranulph Fiennes
South Africans hardly ever face extreme winter conditions – unless you live in remote areas. Yes, most of us face snow and rain, but that lasts for a week and then it’s back to normal. Durbanites have summer all year round – I’ve been there in July and went out for a beach day lol
But winter still brings a new element to trail running and hiking. There’s that little extra bit of drama that gets added to the scene when clouds move in. I learnt a few lessons from last year’s winter training and have slowly been adding and making upgrades to my kit. This year I’ve got some longer treks planned and my hope is to increase the fun factor when out in the mountains.
My winter essentials list now includes:
- Headlamp: You can’t go outside if you can’t see . I keep one in my running pack all the time now. That afternoon run can quickly become an evening run
- Appropriate shoes: If you are only running on the road this isn’t really an issue. For trails, make sure that your shoes shed water and have proper grip to handle mud and wet rocks. Trust me; it’s not fun sliding off to the right instead of making that left turn on a muddy track. At first maybe, but after the 10th time…not so much
- Base layers: Whether it is a long sleeve top or pants – or (my preference) the compression equivalent – these can keep you warm enough on most training days
- Running Windbreaker or Waterproof jacket: A waterproof jacket may be overkill for some with a light windbreaker (even sweatshirt) combined with a base layer doing the trick – even in the rain. However, a waterproof jacket will keep you so much more comfortable during really bad weather. There are light enough waterproofs out on the market that are perfect for running and fold into a small chest pocket. Invest in these and you won’t need a windbreaker
- Optional: Gloves, running tights, gas stoves for long hikes, 3-season tents, sleeping bags that can handle low temperatures etc. I pull these out as I need them depending on the adventure in store
If you are approaching your first winter of training, I would suggest testing out what layering combinations work best for you. I generally go with a base layer and t-shirt and only add a windbreaker or waterproof running jacket if it really gets miserable. It might be cold out when you start, but once you’re moving things can quickly heat up if you are saddled with too many layers.
Running in the rain is awesome because it makes you feel like a badass, even more so when it’s dark out – your family will think you’re nuts, but what the heck do they know, right?!?
Add mud and wind, and that warm shower after a training session will be the best thing since sliced bread.
Your photos will kick ass too