Let’s face it, many people find it harder to enjoy the outdoors when it’s cold. December is a busy time of year for many with work, not to mention ‘the C word’ just around the corner. The shorter days and dark nights mean it’s harder to motivate yourself when the sofa looks so inviting.
But those who can fight the natural urge to stay tucked up warm in bed are on to something. With the right mindset, it’s possible to continue enjoying the benefits of regular time outside right across the year.
This is probably the biggest hurdle for most. It’s difficult to drag yourself out for a run when it’s cold and your free time is already squeezed by the shorter daylight hours. But remember, getting out the door is the hardest bit. If you can force yourself through those first few steps, you’ll sail through the rest of it.
I’ve never regretted a quick blast up to the Lake District or lacing up my trainers for a 30 minute run around the block. But I have regretted the times I couldn’t be bothered and then felt sluggish, less rested and less productive the following day.
If the lure of the sofa proves too much when you get home from work, why not try turning your heating off? A cold house is perfect for forcing you to go for a quick run!
You need to keep warm when out and about. Feeling cold means feeling miserable and it’ll soon put you off those winter adventures.
Remember to layer up. Lots of thinner layers are better than one thick one. And avoid cotton – when you sweat it gets damp and that makes you cold.
Remember your extremities – so cosy socks, gloves and a woolly hat are a must. I struggled for years with finding the right gloves. It didn’t seem to make a difference whether I had a cheap or an expensive pair. Then I discovered the winning combination of layering up. Wear a thin pair of liner gloves under some decent walking gloves and your hands stay toasty.
The right kit
Just because it’s dark out there doesn’t mean you can’t go outside. Invest in a decent head torch (like this one), or some quality bike lights for your ride and there’s no reason you can’t keep moving into the evenings.
The fields I run across are like swamps at the moment. But a grippy pair of trainers and a sense of humour gets you through the muddy bits.
The emphasis here is on ‘quality’. Don’t buy rubbish kit; you’ll only end up hating it and replacing it often which is no good for the planet or your wallet. Buy the best you can afford and look after it…
…which is a nice link to the next section.
Cleaning and maintenance
Your kit is going to get muddy in the Winter. There’s no getting away from it. And after you’ve rustled up the motivation to get out there in the first place, the last thing you want to do when you get back is clean your boots.
But neglect this part at your peril. Leaving your damp and muddy kit steaming away in the corner does it no good. It’ll soon start falling apart and it’s much harder to put on stinking, horrible clothes next time.
Little and often is key. Rinse off your boots when you get in. Wash your dirty clothes. And keep on top of the reproofing regime. All ready for next time.
OK it’s a bit of a chore but much easier than a less regular deep clean. Or worse, having to buy new stuff.
Ready to go
With all my kit shiny and ready to go, I can be on the look out for a decent day. Watch the weather like a hawk. You can often spot when the stars are going to align and give you a spell of good weather.
That’s when you need to pounce. Keep a bag packed (or pack it the night before a proposed day out) to make sure you don’t forget anything and can simply pick up your keys and go.
Finally, try lowering your expectations for the winter months. Unless you have the right skills and experience, the big mountains are going to be off limits for many. But use it as an opportunity to discover some low-level routes. Enjoy the quieter cafés in the towns and how easy it is to park.
Not ready to enjoy the outdoors when it’s cold?
Follow these tips and you can enjoy the outdoors when it’s cold. If you still aren’t convinced and want to hibernate until Springtime, then don’t waste your time watching celebrities in the jungle. Pore over maps and guidebooks and make a plan for the things you want to do next year. Book yourself on to a first aid course or brush up your knowledge of mountain flora and fauna.
You’ll soon be firing on all cylinders and ready to get back out there – just remember your woolly hat.