I've long espoused the virtues of running as a budget alternative to joining a gym. And, as most of you probably know since I haven't stopped banging on about it, I'm running the London Marathon in a few months (for Save the Rhino! Sponsor me! Please! http://www.justgiving.com/alicerunsthemarathon).
Naturally, the snow has proven something of a problem. In fact the only times that I ever regret forsaking my insanely overpriced gym membership in favour of exercising al fresco are on occasions like these: the winter blizzards, unseasonably heavy rain, or gale-force winds.
So what's the solution? To give up? To get a winter gym membership? Until recently, I probably would have gone for the former. Thanks to the looming spectre of the marathon, though, I haven't had that luxury: I simply can't afford to stop running with only a few months to go. Neither, though, can I afford to join a gym.
So, instead of cosying up under the duvet like any other sane person, or heading to a nice warm treadmill, I've been hitting the (slippery) streets, slowly attempting to keep up with my training schedule.
And you know what? It's not that hard. There are two tricks to it, really. First, you need to make sure you choose your route correctly. Snowy parks are ideal because – not only do they look so beautiful that you end up entirely distracted from how tired/cold/thirsty you may or may not be – but, by running on the grass, you can ensure you're running on powdery snow rather than ice, which is much less slippery.
The second is to get your clothes correct. This is harder than it sounds. I've been experimenting with various forms of winter get-up for a while, and have finally hit upon the ideal solution. For the sort of weather we've been having, you need something sturdy. I recently invested in one of those specially designed thermal running jackets from Nike. At the time I was sceptical – at £40, it was more expensive than anything I've bought so far on my training mission (bar trainers, of course!) – but boy, has it proven worthwhile. It's perfect: striking the exact right balance between snug and too hot. It's also incredibly light, so I don't feel restricted at all. In fact, since I discovered it a couple of months ago, the snow has ceased to have any impact whatsoever on my training. I don't even notice it. And that, as far as I'm concerned, is far better value than a winter gym fee.