Training outdoors in the winter adds a new element of fun. One that I anticipated but not quite to this extent. It feels primal. Especially given the lack of sunlight and early onset darkness we experience in the northern hemisphere. For a female with self-defense at the forefront, it also challenges me to stay on top of my surroundings. To be safe AND get my training in. And the answer is no… to those little voices that say “why don’t you train in the morning before work?”. Darkness is the new normal until well after 8:00am during the winter months.
To keep myself safe I follow a few general, relatively obvious rules for solo winter running. This is certainly not ground breaking material. That said, these five points are worth repeating.
- Tell someone my plans. Contact them when I leave and provide an ETA along with a brief description of my running route and attire. Chose a route with a sidewalk along a well-lit, major roadway
- Dress appropriately. This includes headlamp, reflective gear and choices befitting of the temperature and weather conditions.
- Carry bear-spray… for anything that may prey upon a solo runner including but not limited to Coyotes and Bears. Personal noise makers are great too though I’m not a fan of whistles.
- No headphones. Head on a swivel. Always.
- Run with a buddy. Even if it is just your dog.
Once personal safety is taken care of, I run. It’s peaceful with the perfect touch of whimsy as my shadow and I take turns chasing eachother under the street lights.
When the snow is falling in big, fat, lucious flakes? Whimsy turns to magic with nothing in that moment surpassing the sound of my steps crunching the snow.