Urgh, as I type there’s sleet on the window. Some might even call it bone fide snow. What is this, winter or something? Luckily, my cast-iron, etched-in-stone, cannot-be-deviated-from new running schedule (all part of the new ‘rElaXEd aPpROAch’, remember…?) means I’m not out today. I was out yesterday. When it wasn’t snowing. YEAH! I WIN! It was cold, mind. And it was early, as an all-day training thing I was doing at work meant no lunchtime run. Or indeed, no real break at all at lunchtime, as we were obliged to ‘network’ with fellow participants over the 3-bean wraps and prawn vol-au-vents. Man, I hate networking. Forcibly made to chat with the people I’ve been building up a silent resentment to all morning? Gah. See, I try to be a patient, reasonable chap. But when the bleating, middle-aged woman who, on several occasions, complained at length that ‘she couldn’t hear what was being said by the speaker because her hearing wasn’t great’ and yet had plonked herself AT THE BACK OF THE EFFING ROOM, AND MADE NO ATTEMPT TO RELOCATE TO ONE OF THE MANY FREE SEATS NEAR THE FRONT OF THE EFFING ROOM, LIKE WHAT A PERSON WHO WANTED TO SOLVE THE CONUNDRUM RATHER THAN JUST WHINE ON AND ON ABOUT IT WOULD DO, asks ‘could you pass the kettle chips’, it takes all my earthy restraint not to reply ‘get them yourself you cloth-eared hippo’.
On a brighter note, yesterday’s speaker was quite unintentionally entertaining when he wasn’t talking. He did a funny thing with his lips. He’d purse them and relax them. But, like, mega-purse them. Extreme pursing. Then relax. Purse. Relax. Purse. Relax. It was like he was sucking an invisible humbug. Or repeatedly kissing an imaginary toad. My grandmother used to do the same thing. Also, when she took her teeth out, she could touch her nose with her chin. A trick which never lost its appeal to me.
Anyway, running. And winter. Clashing like two almighty…things. So what better time to review the winter running wardrobe? Oh man, there’s a fancy dress outfit. Has anyone ever run as a wardrobe? I’m not sure they have you know. ‘Ben Taylorson: first wardrobe home’ has a nice ring to it…but let’s move on. What am I wearing this season to keep the chill out and the warmth in? Well, it’s a complex, matching and well-thought-out set of kit. Not just stuff I’ve cobbled together randomly over the months at all. Oh no.
Some would perhaps suggest moving into a ‘winter shoe’ as the snow comes down. I, however, go down the ‘use the same shoes as I always do because I’m not made of money/shoes’ route. True, they’ve been soaked through on several occasions and they smell a bit, but the grip is still there and these Nike Vomero 9s have given me no cause for complaint thus far. ‘Shoes explode ironically and maim runner mere days after he lavished praise on them’.
Shorts? Pfft, I think you mean ‘longs’. It took me a while to build up the courage to purchase and wear THE TIGHTS – fearing unsightly crotchal bulges and people shouting ‘Here, Keith, look at that tit in those tights’ – but now I tight up without so much as a care in the world. I’ve even bought a second pair, which are even tighter. And shinier. As Ned Flanders might say, it feels like I’m wearing nuthin’ at all.
I’m a strong advocate of the old ‘base layer’. Nipples object strongly to its absence, for one. Well, for two. I’m not some sort of one-nippled freak. Not that there’s anything wrong with having only one nipple. There’s no judgement here… The base layer prevents unwanted chafing and keeps the cold out. A bit. Without weighing me down as might happen with multiple outer layers. And no one wants that. Because if I fell in a canal I might sink to the bottom. I go for the long-sleeved base layer in the colder months. Regular readers might remember when I splashed out on the Captain America-themed one. Well, now I have an Iron Man one to match. Said Mo Farah to Tariku Bekele.
Underlayer? Overlayer? What are we, wandering free like the Wombles of Wimbledon? Indeed. Only faster. And with less of a penchant for gathering other people’s waste. I go for a long-sleeved outerlayer, but never a jacket or waterproof. Why? Pfft, you expect there to be logic beyond ‘because I don’t have one’? There is no logic. If it rains I get do get soaked through, but that just adds to the multi-sensory nature of the experience…
Now, like a little old man, I find that if I can just keep my hands and feet warm, the cold doesn’t bother me half as much. Hence at this time of year I wear not one, but two pairs of gloves. Neither of which are actually ‘running gloves’ as such. The first pair came free on the front of a kid’s football magazine (said Mo Farah to Geoffrey Kipsang), the second pair are fingerless weight-training gloves. Fingerless gloves for weight training, not gloves for fingerless weight training you understand. It’s a combination that works for me.
Hat? Pfft, I think not. After all, this is me – with my comically oversized head. Plus I sweat like a beast even in the winter months. And a hat merely restricts that flow of sweat and indeed soaks it up like a cranial sponge. And no-one wants a cranial sponge. Unless you’re in the electric chair, then I gather is something of a necessity. And to rebuff the commonly cited fallacy – you don’t lose 90% of the heat from your body out of your head (whilst out running or indeed being electrocuted to death for your heinous crimes). So a hat is not a necessity. Even on that day back in 2010 when I went running first thing in the morning on an exceptionally cold day and my eyelashes froze. Really. No-one wants to come back with frozen eyelashes. Said Mo Farah to Dejen Gebremeskel.