By Jake Thompsett
It seemed like yesterday that we were experiencing glorious 20 degree + weather in the UK, wearing spring wetsuits in the sea till late september, and sporting the shorts and running vests in the mountains with pride! But now, it’s freezing cold on those fresh mornings and pitch black by 5pm. Sounds like a bad time to head out into the mountains ey? Well, I think it’s the perfect time, when you head into the mountains you seem to leave everything else behind. Before I used to ice climb and trail run, winter was quite a gloomy and depressing time (apart from Christmas obviously!), now I can’t wait for it. Winter to me means big adventures in the Scottish Highlands with good friends, and getting blasted by the welsh weather on a run in the Brecon Beacons. It’s about spending your time off challenging yourself against the harshest weather the winter can through at you then spending the evening warm, dry and reflecting on your days adventure.
When you're at home nice at warm, the thought of being exposed to winter mountain weather sounds pretty grim, but it’s not! As soon as you get moving you feel exhilarated, there’s nothing like the feeling of running along a mountain top or down a winding path, getting blasted in the face by wind and rain and thinking about nothing but the next step in front of you. Not only that, but the knowing that a lot of people are sat indoors staying cosy, whilst you head out to give yourself a pasting is second to none. I always like to think “the harder it is, the better it was” meaning that the more intense and challenging your day out was, the more exhilarating and satisfying it feels when you’re back in the warmth!
For me, I think it’s about immersing yourself into the surroundings you're in, I find it really difficult to make the effort to get out when it’s early morning, dark and hammering it down. But once you’ve made that move, your feet are wet, legs muddy and your forehead has that wind blasted, slightly numb feeling you become part of it, and embrace everything the mountains have to throw at you! Training and getting out in the winter can be just as much about going out for an adventure as it is about getting fitter and stronger, ready for the spring and summer. Winter brings added challenges that the summer doesn't always provide so it’s the perfect time to fine tune your skills ready for next year. Just make sure you always remember to prepare for those challenges, and don’t end up turning your ‘adventure’ into an ‘epic'!
Most importantly though, you really, REALLY earn that stop at the local bakery on the way back. Of course the cold means you burn more calories right? So you’ve obviously got to refuel on some homemade cake! That’s what its about though, making an experience of it and not seeing winter training as suffering and something you have to do if you want to keep your fitness up. It doesn't take much, just planning a bakery stop or a pint at the pub afterwards can make the whole experience much more enjoyable!
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