After a longer than two year break from running (it’s a loooong story), I’m back – I started running again on January 1st. That’s right – I started running smack-dab in the middle of a very cold, very snowy Canadian winter.
And so it goes that, as I found myself out there trudging along in the snow, I began to question the sanity of choosing to start running in – of all months – January. You may be surprised that there is an upside to the choice. No, really, there is! I can think of five positives:
Big Clothes: Hey, I’m about 40 pounds heavier than I was at the peak of training for my last marathon and, while I was a near-skeleton back then, I am nowhere near to resembling “slim in the waist” now. Winter running means winter clothing, and said winter clothing covers me in all the right places (basically, everywhere). I like that.
It’s Dark (for much of the day): Same basic reason as in #1 – people can’t see me. I like that.
Almost No One Else Is Running Outside: Yet another variation of #1 and #2 (you may be noticing a trend). That said, it’s not just that I don’t like the idea of showing how round I’ve become, it’s also about not showing the world how slow I’ve gotten (Mother of Mercy, have I ever gotten slow!) and the fact that there aren’t many people running outside to bear witness to all of that. Me and my out of shape, slow self have some solitude (you won’t find that in any gym). I like that.
Snow Is Soft: If you’re a new or returning runner – especially if you’re carrying some extra weight – you’re probably not very light on your feet. Take it from me, a cushion of snow on the ground is a good thing – that cushion is going to feel a lot less punishing than running on the bare concrete or pavement you’d be running on if you started running in the summer.
It’s Quiet… and Beautiful: The tranquility one can experience from running on a fresh blanket of snow is hard to explain. Winter running definitely has its charm. You just have to try it to know what I mean.
So, there ya have it – the upside to starting to run in the winter. Can you think of others? Leave me a comment and, please, get out there and enjoy the season with me!
Here in the Great White North, runners in Alberta, Canada, have endured the second greatest snowfall ever recorded for the month of November. Yet training still continues albeit at a modified pace and at times alternate places. Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts for training in a winter wonderland.
Do get proper footwear (aggressive tread) or anti slip devices for your shoes.
Do start into the wind and finish the run with the wind at your back.
Do use petroleum jelly on your eyelashes to prevent your eyes from freezing shut.
Do continue to hydrate as needed during your run.
Do some cross training or weight training.
Do change any racing plans that might be adversely affected by the weather. For example, a number of runners have cancelled plans to race marathons since their long runs and quality runs were essentially impossible to do. They simply picked another marathon at a later date.
Do take money with you for cab or bus fare, just in case! Also you should have some form of ID with you if you are running alone.
Do not assume you can run at the same pace as in regular weather, you can’t, at least not without a lot of extra effort.
Do not run the same distance as you would normally (muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints do not like uneven surfaces and overuse injuries occur if you run too far), so run for time not distance.
Do not train on a treadmill without at least a 1-2% grade. The belt kicks your leg backwards which can cause a hyper extension injury in your lower back. A slight incline forces you to lean forward slightly, protecting your lower back.
Do not run on frozen rivers, creeks or lakes for obvious safety reasons, unless you are absolutely certain it is safe to do so.
Do not get depressed about the conditions, eventually they will get better, and this change may actually give your body a bit of a break or allow you to do some of that cross training that you have been neglecting!
Hopefully these simple tips will help to make your winter running experience safe, sane and fun!
This video shows what I wear for running in the Canadian cold. How cold? Really cold but you’ll have to watch to find out just how cold. What you should know about this video is that, with what you see me wearing, I am warm while running.
With the right gear, you too can run in the cold. So get geared up and enjoy running in the winter.