Running is a big part of my life. It's one of my favourite ways to tap out from the world and de-stress after a crazy day - yes, even in winter!
Actually, I find it totally energising to feel the cool air whipping past me as I jog off any winter blues. Also, sweat ratings aren't so high in winter which gets my vote.
There are many reasons to run: running improves lung capacity and strengthens your heart, plus helps tone your legs and glutes (yes, please!). And if you remember to engage your core while you run, you're going to improve your rig, too.
If you want to fall in love with running like me, or simply up your game, with my top tips:
1. Invest in a good pair of runners
Wearing the wrong shoe can not only hurt your feet, but can also injure your hip, knee and back. Add some wet weather and you've got yourself an excuse to stay in and watch Netflix instead! You've also got a safety hazard on your hands. So I recommend going to a specialist sports store where they have trained staff who know how to fit your feet correctly and can recommend styles based on your goals.
2. Download a good playlist
Only a crazy person would go outside when there's the option to curl up by the heater, right? Wrong! A runner with a totally kick-ass playlist would too. Music is a runner's best friend. An awesome playlist will get you fired up and will improve your mood and the quality of the run. If you know you're a sucker for losing motivation in winter, then get prepped with a pumping playlist that'll have you making excuses (like running) to listen to it. My running picks? Beyoncé, Kanye and Flume.
3. Mix up the surface
Don't limit yourself to just the footpath, mix up your terrain. The pavement is great for sprinting, but the treadmill means you can train all year regardless of the weather and running on sand at the beach trains your muscles by forcing you to lift your feet higher (a bit of rainfall the night before doesn't go astray either, firming up the sand making it easier for beginners). Mixing it up ensures you never get bored, too.
4. Introduce cross training
If you really want to up your running game, don't just run. Other forms of exercise can improve strength, endurance and cardiovascular health to make you a better runner in the long term.
Running is very physical and can be quite taxing on our bodies. To ensure you don't get injured, it's essential you stretch before hand and cool down properly after every run (you'll thank me later!). An added bonus is that stretching warms up your muscles which makes braving the cold a lot easier. Don't overwhelm yourself, commit to the stretch first and the run will come.
6. Add distance gradually
Don't try and run 5km one week and 10km the next – build up your distance and speed gradually. My training technique is to add 500m each week. Start at your own level (even it's one kilometre) and have patience with yourself and your body. Setting yourself realistic goals makes it easier to commit.
7. Have a rest day
Yep, I'm encouraging you to have a day off – your body will need it so don't feel bad. Treat your body to 24 hours of rest and recovery. Check the weather ahead of time and maybe plan for it to fall on that stormy day with a high of 8°C...
8. Rug up
Cold out? Not a prob. As much as I love rocking a crop at the gym, there's no way you're catching me on my mid-winter morning jog without my hoodie and a pair of full length leggings! Figure out what works for you and invest in some quality layers.
Laura Henshaw is the co-founder of KIC (Keep It Cleaner) health and fitness program.