winter shoesI like to think I am a tough runner; I’m capable of burrowing deep into the pain cave in the last 5K of a marathon and, at any given time, I’m rocking a black toe nail or two. I don’t even blink at the red mark my heart rate monitor strap leaves across my chest.

But still, I have a weakness. The one thing that gets me each year is running in the cold. It isn’t just that my fingers slowly lose feeling as I get farther and farther from home, or that every piece of technology slowly dies with messages that they need to warm up to operate. The problem is that terrible feeling of thawing afterwards.

My knees get achy, any weak points in my alignment are sore and I end up pacing as I wait for my hands to warm up, every time wondering why I do this to myself. There is something about being cold on a run that erases my carefully trained pain tolerance, leaving me to alternate between feelings of self-pity and anger, all the while slowly freezing further. Unfortunately, this is a feeling that even the endorphins released while running cannot undo.

cold weather runningThis week temperatures dipped below -21 C. I decided it wasn’t that bad and was ready to tackle the cold head on. The first number of kilometres were wonderful. I was toasty warm, my music was playing and my footing was stable. It was at the halfway point when things began to fall apart. The wind picked up and snow didn’t fall so much as it slashed sideways. My music died. My hands froze. I began picking up the pace, hoping to get back to my warm apartment. The roads iced over further still.

When I finally got home I was rendered momentarily useless. My frozen hands made any task near impossible, leaving me pacing until they regained feeling. I have solidified my dislike for cold weather running for 2015.

If you among the truly tough and are running outside, here are a few things to remember:

– Be sure to watch for ice and wear sturdy shoes because your stabilizers are working overtime which could lead to injury
– Bundle up. Frost bite is not a badge of honour.
– Warm up slowly. Trying to hold an intense pace at the outset of a winter run can be harmful.
– Two suggestions: body glide and lip chap.

Happy running!

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