Running training for climbers
Pioneering British climber and OS Champion Bonita Norris uses running over winter to build up her base fitness for expeditions and here are her top tips.

Running training for climbers

Indeed she reckons winter is actually the best time of year to get outside and exercise and having become the youngest woman from the UK to climb Everest, at just 22, the English adventurer knows a thing or two about working out in cold conditions.
She explained: "I much prefer training for expeditions in the winter. With the cooler temperatures I find I can really take my engine up a notch."
"It’s also a chance to keep my wellbeing in check; I particularly like the fact that the sun sets much earlier - around the time I go out running. For me, the start of winter training means running at sunset - it's just the best time of year to get outdoors and see amazing autumnal colours."
Here are Bonita’s tips to get maximum benefit from your own winter exercise:
1. Warm up properly: I find it easier to exercise outdoors in winter as it’s less hot and humid, I really can't bear training hard when it's hot. However, in winter I take much more time on my warm up as you're more at risk of injury.
2. Go against the crowd: Another great thing about winter is that less people visit public spaces like local parks, beaches and national parks, which is fantastic if, like me, you get outside to appreciate the peace and tranquillity of our Great British landscapes.
3. Accentuate the positives: As for getting/staying fit, I've learned to love training in the winter. As my Himalayan trips have been in March time, my training for these has been during the coldest months of the year. I taught myself to think of the cold as a positive thing and would purposely get outside and run on the coldest nights of the year. I can remember once thinking "I actually can run in minus five!" It was a revelation.
4. Be bold - start cold. That's my motto as far as running kit is concerned. I'm a bit of a masochist and don’t wear much kit - this started when I was preparing myself mentally for cold starts on Mt Everest. I don't wear any extra layers, long sleeves, gloves or a hat. You’ll find me in a reflective vest and leggings, even when there’s a frost on the ground.

But, kit is about personal preference so it's best to work out your own system rather than do what someone else says works for them. I'd be lying if I said I haven't come back from winter runs with frozen arms and hands, unable to put the key in the door or untie my shoes laces (and also feeling quite smug by that!). 

And do take extra layers if you’re running to a point more than half an hour away from home. I tend to run in a loop around where I live so that if I get injured I can cut my run short and head back in a few minutes. I had a spectacular fall once when the toggles of my trainers caught together. I landed flat on the pavement and apart from being quite shaken, had hurt my knee and hand. I walked back but got absolutely frozen in only a few minutes! Back-up clothes, a phone and money for a taxi are essential on icy or wet nights if you plan to run far.
5. Take that first step: If it's really, really cold and staying in seems much more inviting, I say to myself "just step outside the door and run to the end of the road. It will be over in five minutes." Once I get to the end of the road I always decide to keep on going - it's getting out of the door that's the hardest bit.

6. Get a buddy or join a club: Always try to partner up in winter for morale and safety. I run with my aunty, which I love and it means we can still go trail running or out later in the evenings if we need to. There are so many different clubs you can join too, where you can meet people to get outside with. Or sign up for an organised activity, the British Mountaineering Council and Ordnance Survey have lots of ideas on their website for winter activity courses across the UK.

Click here for our running clubs directory
Click here for our climbing clubs directory

Bonita has also provided some key pointers on rock climbing and hill walking in winter conditions.
As part of the #GetOutside campaign, Ordnance Survey is asking for people to make their own pledges – from walking the dog longer and further, to scaling Britain’s highest summits. Anyone looking for more fresh air and to get active can pin their pledge to the map through the #GetOutside website -

There is also the added incentive of a weekly draw to support the best pledges and the handing out vouchers to support the activities – from ice cream vouchers for the family, to a pair of new walking boots for that ultimate challenge.

The campaign was created by OS in response to new research findings which show that a quarter of the British public won’t walk anywhere that takes over 15 minutes.

Ordnance Survey is also looking for inspirational adventurers that are passionate and enthusiastic about Britain, and who are great at motivating others to get out there and enjoy it, to join Bonita as well as wildlife presenter and naturalist Steve Backshall and endurance adventurer Sean Conway as champions of the campaign - click here to nominate someone.


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