No, there’s no denying it, running and cycling have a strong association with summer.

It’s true that winter outdoor exercise doesn’t look very appealing when you’re standing inside looking out at the rain. But this is all wrong. As anyone who’s done the Great Scottish Run in the sun knows, it’s far more of an ordeal to exercise when it’s hot than when it’s cool. There are lots of open participation events taking place all around the country between now and next spring to help focus the mind. So come on: it’s time to embrace the grey.



Parkrun is an organisation run by volunteers and backed by sponsorship. It organises free weekly 5K timed runs in parks in Glasgow and Edinburgh on Saturday mornings. They are open to everyone and the courses are easy. The advantage of a park run compared to running alone is that you do it in a race-type setting, which gets the adrenalin pumping. Race times are recorded by the organisers so you can check your progress week by week. Parkrun does a nifty thing called age grading which gives you a percentage score for your performance taking your age and sex into account. This allows you to compare your performance against other people’s even if they’re a different age and the opposite sex.

Where: Edinburgh -- Cramond/Silverknowes promenade; Glasgow -- North Wood of Pollok Park.

When: 9.30am every Saturday.

Who: everyone.

How much: free, but register online in advance.




There’s a lot to be said for riding your bike through sun-streaked glens, but if we Scots only cycled when the sun was out then Chris Hoy would still have stabilisers. Scotland has excellent cycling routes open all year round (visit for downloadable map of UK cycle network) but autumn and winter are also the cyclocross season.

Cyclocross is a stop-start form of cycling, where you ride your bike around a short grassy course, punctuated with obstacles, such as logs, which require you to dismount and lift your bike. The course is two to three kilometres long and competitors complete several circuits. It’s open to anyone: currently, regular cyclocross racers are aged from three to 63 years old and the sport is growing all the time. Held in parks or on playing fields and said to be the easiest form of bike racing there is, all you need is a mountain or cyclocross bike -- something with knobbly tyres to cope with the grass -- and a helmet.

Jac Strachan, 35, an accountant from Edinburgh, started cyclocross racing five years ago; her partner was a fan of the sport and she wanted to see what all the fuss was about. “From the very first time I went, I was hooked,” she says. Getting off your bike to go over obstacles makes it more varied and interesting than regular cycling, and it’s great for people who also like running, she says. And it’s not just for fitness freaks. “People go at a range of different speeds,” says Jac. “Even if you’re among the slowest, because you’re going around the course again and again, you don’t have that sense of being left behind. Everyone encourages each other.”

Where: locations around Scotland from Ayrshire to Angus.

When: next event October 25, Mugdock Country Park, Milngavie; first race (youth) starts at 11am.

Who: cyclists with a mountain bike or cyclocross bike; separate races for youths and under-12s.

How much: under 12s free; youths £4, adults £8.



Fun runs, 5Ks and 10Ks

There’s something going on nearly every weekend between now and Christmas. For a full list, see


November 1: Hamilton 5K race and Junior Fun Run, Strathclyde Park, in aid of Lanarkshire Hospice. 5K (ages 14+, £7) starts 10am; 1K fun run (ages 13 and under, £2) starts 9.30am. Download entry form at



November 29: St Andrew’s Day Saltire 6K fun run, Strathclyde Park, in aid of St Andrew’s Hospice. Open to all; 17 and under, £4 (suggested minimum donation); 18+, £8; family (two adults, two children) £17.50. Download entry form at



November 29 (Stirling University Campus) and December 6 (Dean Castle, Kilmarnock): RNLI Reindeer runs, in aid of RNLI, with free reindeer antlers for all entrants. 10K (ages 15+, £12.50) starts 10.30am; 5K (10+, £10) at 11.30am; Dean Castle event also has a 2.5K Santa Saunter family walking event, starting at 11.30am (£5, children under five free). Enter online at



December 6: the Co-operative jogscotland Christmas Cracker 5K, Strathclyde Park. Aged 13 and over; £8. Join online at



January 9: Great Winter Run 5K, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh. Aged 14 and over; starts at midday. Enter online at



British Military Fitness

Don’t be daunted: contrary to what the name might suggest, you will not be reliving scenes from Full Metal Jacket. British Military Fitness classes are run by former members of the armed forces with recognised fitness training qualifications who are there to encourage, not humiliate. The classes operate in parks across the UK, in all weathers and throughout autumn and winter. They are open to members of the public of all ages and fitness levels, the classes are graded according to ability. Many people use BMF to help them lose weight. You start off with a free trial session and take it from there.

Where: Aberdeen (Duthie Park); Dundee (Baxter Park); Dunfermline (Pittencrieff Park); Edinburgh (Business Park, Holyrood Park, Inverleith Park, Meadows); Glasgow (Bellahouston Park, Kelvingrove Park, Rouken Glen Park); Perth (North Inch Park).

When: times vary, but typically each park offers two weekday evenings or one weekend morning class.

Who: beginners (those who do little or no exercise); intermediate and advanced.

How much: free trial class, then £100 for 10 sessions.




Take a walk by the Thames through London and you will be dodging roller-bladers all the way. Skating instructor Don Morton believes the sport hasn’t taken off in Scotland because of the weather, but he would like to change that and runs a free Sunday roller- blading group in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, throughout November and December. Morton took up roller- blading, also known as inline skating, when he was over 60 years old and believes anyone of any age can learn. Skating raises the heart rate and burns calories.

When: at 2.30pm every Sunday in November and December, weather permitting.

Where: meet at Bellahouston Park Leisure Centre.

Who: must be of reasonable competence, and be able to stop. Skates can be booked in advance for a charge.

How much: free; lessons available for a fee.



Walking events

You don’t need an organised group to go for a walk, but many people prefer walking with others for the companionship and motivation. There are dozens of groups around the country. The website provides details of groups in every area of Scotland, but here are a few examples:


Ramblers Scotland ( has 58 groups, including three for those in their 20s and 30s and some offering shorter, easier walks.



Clyde Valley Ramblers (; every second Sunday, organises two walks of different levels between Braemar and the English Lakes.



Glasgow HF Hillwalking Club (; founded in 1917, the club is open to everyone over 18 and walks almost every weekend, with eight to 15 people taking part per walk.



All Year Ramblers (, an Edinburgh-based group, organises walks of eight to 12 miles every Sunday from the Cairngorms to the north of England; also organises holiday weekends.