Winter in Botswana is remarkably more pleasant than winter in other parts of the world. But everything is relative! For most of the year, we are forced to run at un-Godly hours just to beat the heat and sometimes by 7am the sun already feels like its piercing the skin. So when winter comes round with much lower temperatures than we are used to, it can feel extremely uncomfortable. But I love running in winter! It just feels, for lack of a better word, easier. Once that initial chill has worn off, I feel like I’m gliding and when I’m done, I feel energised. Although the run might feel easier, getting out of bed certainly isn’t! A couple of years ago, I wrote 10 practical tips for running in winter but I’ve since discovered a few more that I’d like to share!
1/ Warm Your Clothes. As our houses are built for heat they are not well insulated and central heating is unheard of. This means for a couple of months each year, our houses are cold! The chill in the air, the freezing floor and the cold running gear. I’m stressed just writing this! But this year, I’ve been warming my clothes by the heater and what a difference it makes! I’m also doing the same with the kids’ uniform and it has made their changing experience more bearable.
2/ Use Socks As Gloves. I feel winters here are too short to invest in expensive running gloves. Admittedly, my hands don’t get as cold as other people’s do. But a cheap and easy hack for people who struggle with cold hands is to cover them with socks on those days you need it. Once your hands are warm, the socks are easy to remove and roll up for the remainder of your run or you can even discard them if you are in a race as my husband often does during Diacore.
3/ Wear A Buff. This never featured in my first Winter Tips blog, well… because I had no clue what it was then! But now that we’ve all been forced to wear them for a while… I think it’s safe to say most runners own one! Not only does this help you abide by pandemic regulations, it keeps you warm on the run. It’s so versatile – you can cover your whole head if you like but I stick to my mouth and nose and I love having that extra bit of warmth especially when there is a wind chill. Also, breathing in cold, dry air can irritate your mucous membranes and respiratory tract so wearing a buff is a great way to keep you breathing in warm and moist air.
4/ Invest In Wireless Earphones. Another little gem! So you know how you have to keep readjusting wired earphones on the run? That’s bad enough when it’s warm but having to do that when it’s cold and your hands are covered is just a nuisance. Wireless earphones are comfortable to wear on the run and need far less adjustment (at least from my experience). So it’s worth the investment and of course can be used throughout the year, whatever the season.
5/ Don’t Forget The Sunscreen! Luckily for us, Botswana still comes with beautiful sunny skies on most days! But just because it’s a lot colder doesn’t mean we are protected from the sun’s lethal rays. So long as the sun is out (and even if it’s behind clouds) you can get burnt. I’ve made that mistake one too many times! So bottom-line, all runs need sunscreen…even in winter! And while we’re on the topic of sun-protection, don’t forget those sun glasses either!
What do you enjoy about running in winter? What do you hate? What tricks do you have for staying consistent during winter?