Why I Prefer Running in the Winter

Have you ever gone for a run in winter? If not, why not – is it the cold that puts you off, or perhaps the dark mornings/evenings? Before I went for my first run in the winter, I was a bit apprehensive. I knew I hadn’t enjoyed doing sports at school during the winter and I couldn’t see why it would be any different now. But I wanted to go running, as it is so easy to put on a pair of trainers, step outside the door and run. From getting my kit on to stepping out of the shower after a run, it usually takes out no more than 1 hour from my day (that’s only about 4%!). Now, whilst research might indicate that it is more efficient to burn fat from body weight exercises and lifting weights, I still think that the challenges that running brings to your body and mind are worth it, regardless of whether you burn more or less calories. As I wrote in a previous blog post, I find running difficult, and that is exactly why I do it. Overcoming this difficulty is part of the strength I want to build in my body, even if it is more mental than physical.

Anyway, coming back to running in winter, before I went for my first run I made sure I was well equipped with the right gear. That is probably the biggest change to exercising in winter that has taken place since my schooldays. Not only do I now get to choose what I wear, today’s sportswear is typically made from high-performance fabrics that provide thermal insulation and moisture transfer. And there are some really stylish garments out there!

Running in the winter
Running in my trusty black Oysho leggings (with ankle zip detail) , Kipsta keepdry base layer and Oysho seamless sports jacket. (Despite taking hundreds of photos in burst mode, I still couldn’t find one without crazy hair…).

So once I had acquired the right kit and stepped out for my first run on a cold, winter evening last year, I discovered that I actually prefer running in the cold. In the summer, I find the sun and heat absorbs all my energy and I hate the way my head gets hotter, and hotter, and hotter, and I end up with a beetroot face that drives me crazy! Instead, when running in the cold, my body temperature is just right thanks to the right kit, and the cold air makes me feel like I have an air-conditioning unit directed at my face, regulating its temperature. And as a consequence I find it easier to keep going.

If you have never tried running in the winter, then I would definitely encourage you to invest in some warm running kit and give it a go. If you run during the dark mornings/evenings in winter, keep in mind the advice in the video below from This Girl Can Run on how to keep safe:

And here are a few final tips from personal experience:

  • I often wear wireless around-ear headphones to listen to music and keep my ears warm at the same time.
  • Even in winter, if I run during the day, I wear a high SPF sunscreen on my face to protect my skin (I usually wear the Avène SPF 50 tinted compact all year in place of traditional foundation).
  • I make sure I drink lots of water as even though I feel less thirsty compared to when I run in the summer, I do sweat a lot under my layers of running kit.

Do you like running in the winter? Share you experiences with me in the comments below.

5 Winter Tennis Wardrobe Looks

In Italy we seem to jump straight from summer to winter, with only a glimpse at autumn. As you can see from my Instagram video from earlier this week, I was not prepared for playing tennis in the cold and I slipped back into my general fitness/running/activewear wardrobe. Although tennis is seen as predominantly a summer sport, nothing will stop me from training this winter, even if I do need to do it inside a giant, dark, cold balloon. And nothing with stop me from trying to look my best, though I now realise this will take a bit of planning and effort, and so I have started to prepare my winter tennis wardrobe.

As you will have realised if you follow my Instagram feed, or have read some of my previous blog posts, I like to wear tennis skirts and dresses. So I set myself the challenge of finding two additional items of clothing (I decided to restrict myself to 2 pieces, as I am running out of wardrobe space!) that would allow me upgrade as much of my current tennis apparel as possible, for the winter weather.

The two items I chose were a pair of black leggings (with a zip at the ankles) and a lightweight jacket, both from Oysho and very reasonably priced.

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Winter Tennis Look 1

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Here I have simply put my black and white Oysho dress (seen here by itself) on top of the leggings. The jacket will be great for warming up, and then I can play with the dress and leggings alone. Of course this monochrome look goes perfectly with my Idawen tennis bag. The leggings can be taken off if I get too hot, and replaced with the black Lycra shorts that come with the dress.


Winter Tennis Look 2

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Here I have replaced the Oysho dress with my Ellesse dress (seen here by itself). Again, I can easily take the leggings off and replace them with shorts, if needed.


Winter Tennis Look 3

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I have worn this black and white Oysho top and black Australian skirt many times together (you may have noticed that it is what I am wearing in my Gravatar) and it lends itself perfectly to the addition of black leggings. In this case it is difficult to take the leggings off, as the skirt has built-in shorts, so I would need to keep this outfit for really cold occasions.


Winter Tennis Looks 4 and 5

oysho-decathlon                lululemon

My colour block tennis skirts (one from Decathlon and the other Lululemon) are very easy to match with these black leggings and a black tank top. Again, these skirts have built-in shorts and so I can’t easily whip the leggings off, so this is a look for the especially colder days.


What I am still missing, however, are some long sleeved tops for when it is too cold for my tank tops (even after I have warmed up) and so I have added some of my favourites to my  winter fashion wishlist, whilst I make some additional room in my wardrobe..!

You can also find a few other ideas for winter tennis gear on the wishlist, and I’ll continue to add to it as I discover more fall/winter tenniswear over the coming months.

How Does the Tennis Ball Stay Up?

After playing tennis with my partner’s 10-year-old son a few weeks ago, he asked his dad before going to bed “How does the tennis ball stay up Helen’s dress without falling down?” I had been wearing my Oysho black and white tennis dress (see photo here), and he just saw me magically extracting the ball from under my skirt before each serve and couldn’t understand the trick. Well, of course, they come with a pair of black Lycra shorts that have a holder for the tennis ball. All of the tennis skirts I have so far purchased (from Oysho, Lucky in Love, Australian, and Decathlon) have in-built Lycra shorts and even though they don’t all have holders for the ball, it is easy to tuck the ball under the shorts and, given the tightness of Lycra, it doesn’t fall down. However, two beautiful dresses that I have recently acquired (one from Sweaty Betty bought in the sales during a recent shopping trip to London, and the other from Ellesse that I won in an Instagram competition – see photos below) do not come with white shorts and so, in addition to problems of VPL*, there is nowhere to keep the ball.

Continue reading “How Does the Tennis Ball Stay Up?”

When Tennis Players Become Fashion Designers

There is something about tennis and fashion that goes perfectly hand in hand. Nowadays so many tennis players are getting involved in designing their own “tenniswear”, which is something you don’t see so much with other sports. Perhaps it is because tennis players, and female players in particular, get to experiment so much with the styles and colours of their tennis dresses / skirts / racerback tops and tanks / skorts / shorts. They have more freedom to express themselves through their tennis outfits, whereas the sportswear in other disciplines can be limited by high-performance requirements (think swimmers or track athletes). The strong link between tennis and fashion might also be because tennis is primarily an individual sport, and the players are so well known and recognized that they become important brand ambassadors, which is why fashion brands frequently look to collaborate with them. Venus and Serena Williams both now have clothing lines, and in the latter case the clothes go beyond tennis apparel to everyday wear, and Ana Ivanovic just mentioned a few days ago in an interview with Outside the Ball that she also wants to one day design her own fashion line.

My personal interest lies in the collaborations between tennis players and activewear brands, as female tennis players must have the best first-hand experience on what is needed to make you feel comfortable and fashionable on the tennis court. My favourite collaboration between a tennis player and an athletic apparel brand is Chrissy by Tail between legendary tennis player Chris Evert and Tail.

In this partnership, it was actually Chris Evert that contacted Tail, rather than the other way around (you can read more about how the brand started here). There are currently 8 collections in Chrissy by Tail which are mainly distinguished by a feature colour: Garnet Red, Imperial Purple, Belaire Blue, Allure Red, Pure Gold, Peony, Mauritius, Alegria (some examples are given in the photos below). Most of the pieces are characterised by bold blocks of colour, comfortable looking fabrics, and flattering shapes. Perhaps it is my age that attracts me to Chrissy by Tail (the collection targets the 30-plus demographic), but I actually think these pieces are so classy that they would look good on players of any age, size and shape.

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Who do you think should be involved in the next big collaboration between tennis and activewear brands? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

5 Unique Tennis Brands I Discovered on Instagram

The US Open 2016 has further confirmed that tennis is “having a fashion moment“. If you didn’t catch much of the tennis this summer, then take a look at Tennis Identity‘s blog post about the best of women’s tennis fashion at this year’s US Open. Despite the many great tennis outfits on show, in my opinion we saw way too many tennis players wearing Nike’s neon yellow offerings, and it must be pretty distracting to turn up to your match to find your opponent wearing exactly the same outfit (right down to the visor and sweat bands). In fact, once I had convinced myself that I could dress like a professional when playing tennis (see this blog post), I knew that at the same time I didn’t want to look exactly like the professionals. I wanted to wear tennis outfits that were unique, feminine and fashionable. And this is exactly what I found whilst browsing Instagram. Here are my top 5 unique tennis brands, all discovered on Instagram, that offer the best designs in female tennis attire.
Continue reading “5 Unique Tennis Brands I Discovered on Instagram”