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Why you should run a winter race this year

You're Canadian, so bundle up, embrace the cold and get your season started a little earlier than usual

It’s February, and Punxsutawney Phil, Wiarton Willie or any other groundhog that you turn to for your weather forecast predicted an early spring, so you’re probably looking forward to running in sunnier, warmer weather. But why wait for the snow to melt and the temperature to sneak above zero before you get into your 2020 racing schedule? Here’s why you should consider entering a race this winter.

Shake off your winter rust

Even if you keep up with your training during winter, you’re apt to be a little rusty ahead of the first race of your season. It takes a little while to get back into the swing of racing. How many times have you performed poorly in your season opener and blamed it on winter rust? A great way to get around that is to enter a race during the winter. This way, you can kick off your season in February or March.

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By starting your season a month or two earlier than you normally would, you can see what your fitness level is. Then, if need be, you can make any adjustments in training well before you start your spring and summer racing schedule. By your first spring race in April or May, you’ll have broken the ice for the season and you’ll be primed for great racing.

No pressure

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It might be icy, you’ll be bundled up in lots of layers and, again, you’ll probably be a bit rusty. Since you know that, you shouldn’t expect any great times or PBs. With that factor eliminated, you can race pretty much stress-free. Go have a good time, try to run a well-paced race and do your best. You can’t ask much more of yourself at this point in the season.

winter running

Racing without self-imposed pressure will allow you to simply run without worrying about splits or calculating your expected finishing time, and that can be liberating. Maybe shedding that stress will lighten your load and carry you to a better time than you anticipate. You could start the season off on a high.

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You’re going to run anyway

You are, aren’t you? It can be snowy, icy and cold, but you’re going to get out for your Sunday long run all the same. Why not swap that solo trot around town for a race with a few dozen other runners? It doesn’t even have to be a long race. There are half- and full marathons offered in the winter if you want, but a quick 5K or 10K is great, too. Then, if you want to add more, you can continue on your own afterwards, to satisfy the long run requirement for the weekend.

Racing is fun

You’ve spent the last few months waking up to go run on dark, cold streets or you’ve been stuck on a treadmill, so give yourself a reward for all that work and enter a race. Regardless of the time or temperature, racing is fun. You’re surrounded by other runners who, just like you, have worked hard to get to the start line. There may even be enough spectators on the sidelines to cheer you on (although some fans may opt to sit in a cafe with a coffee or hot chocolate to keep warm while you run).

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It may not be high season for racing, but you won’t have a hard time finding an event to run. Even in the middle of winter, there  are races every weekend across the country.

  • On February 16, Ottawa’s Winterman Marathon will run, featuring a 3K, 5K, 10K, half- and full marathon.
  • The following weekend, on February 23, Colwood, B.C., plays host to the Hatley Castle 8K, the fourth stop of the Vancouver Island Race Series.
  • On March 1, there’s the Demi Marathon de L’Acadie in St-Isidore, N.B., and in Saskatoon, the Brainsport Brainfreeze offers a 5K, 10K or half-marathon.
  • The Hypothermic Half Marathon also has events across Canada throughout February, and March sees many shamrock-titled runs for St. Patrick’s Day.

If you didn’t realize it before, now you know that there are always opportunities to race. Check out the race calendar in your province and find a winter event nearby. It may just become an annual tradition.