Training during the autumn and winter months is one of my favourite times of year. While it’s colder and often a bit damp in the early mornings, for me there is nothing nicer than being out and about running or cycling enjoying the fresh air and the changing season. The key to enjoying training during chiller days, particularly on the bike or if you are running long, is to make sure you are wearing the right kit and for me it is all about layering.
By layering up, you can strip down a bit if you get too hot. Try and find clothes that will fold away to nothing and fit in your back pockets. I have a featherlight, castelli sleeveless gillet which will roll down into the palm of my hand. It is a brilliant windcheater and doubles as a waterproof. It was a bit pricey but it is so versatile it is worth the money.
Arm warmers are by far my favourite things. It means you can still wear your short sleeve cycle tops through the winter and you can adjust them while on the move. I have various sets but in colder weather try a pair of merino wool ones. They are really cosy and comfortable and you don’t seem to sweat in them either. I also use my cycle tops and arm warmers for running. It may sound odd but cycling tops have handy pockets at the back for your phone, gels and space for other bits which running tops just don’t seem to have.
I tend to always wear a buff, it is such a handy piece of kit and much more practical than a neckerchief or scarf, it can go under your cycle helmet if your head is cold, double as a hat for running, and if you wear it round your neck you can pull it up to cover your chin or further still your mouth and nose when it is very chilly. Perfect for running too and tons on the market so very cheap to buy.
Tops that have removal arms can be worth the investment. Admittedly, I did spend a lot on a Gore outer layer cycling jacket that has removal arms and I have not regretted it, although in hindsight white was perhaps a bit of a mistake given I only wear it in the winter and getting mud spray off the back can be a bit of a bother! I own a cycling jacket but I have worn it once, it is too heavy and hot for me but I know plenty of people who prefer that to a tight fitting outer jacket. It is certainly personal preference and maybe down to the fact that I often don’t feel the cold as much as others.
Toes and fingers are the bits that tend to bother cyclists more than core warmth. I address that by wearing a pair of normal ankle socks and then knee high socks on top. Sealskinz are my brand of sock choice. They are pretty expensive and I only own one pair but they work well. When I bought mine they did not do ladies specific sizing that may have changed but a small man size fit my size 6.5 feet. I also have a pair of overshoes which help to keep your feet dry as well as toasty. My top tip is remember to put them on before you put your feet into your cycling shoes!
Another option is calf guards. Lots of cyclist and runners use calf compression sleeves during training as well as for muscle recovery. While I use them for recovery I am not a fan for training as I find them a bit restricting but plenty of others swear by them to keep legs warm and stop muscles cramping.
You could also think about leg warmers or full length bib tights but I tend to get overly hot in full length tights so don’t own a pair and I have not found a pair of leg warmers yet that don’t make my legs look like a pair of fat overstuffed sausages. So when it’s really cold I choose to add a pair of tights under my bib shorts, just standard ladies 90 denier tights under everything. It is not necessarily something I have seen anyone else do but it works for me. They don’t rub or chaff and they dry out quickly when caught in a shower. Believe me I have ridden miles like this and never had a problem.
So to the fingers… gloves, in my experience the more you spend on a pair does not equally equate with the better they are, in fact sometimes the opposite. I have a pair of really tight fitting gloves that I have used for years, which are a pain to get on and off but they seem to work. Although when it is particularly chilly I have seen me wear an old pair of oversized woollen gloves over the top, which makes changing gear a bit interesting but just give me an extra layer. When it’s less cold in springtime a pair of thin running gloves with fingerless cycling gloves over the top are a good option.
Finally, incorporate some bright kit when out and about on dull days and remember to put some lights on your bike. Being seen can save your life. Above all get out there, enjoy the season and don’t let the rain dampen your spirits or put you off your training stride. Have fun!