Running in cold weather

The purpose of this post is not to convince you to go out and run 20km in this cold weather. Probably those who like already do it and those who don’t…wait until the better season. The idea here is to bring to you more awareness to certain benefits of running in certain weather conditions.

When recently crossing the finish point of Tenerife’s marathon I came to the conclusion that I had lost my initial motivation for running. Too much running had exhausted me having completed 3 marathons and two half marathons in one year which had left me totally empty inside. So about a month ago I started to ask myself what do I still enjoy now about running? I was in Prague asking myself this question actually while running at -5c with tons of snow falling around me. The answer came instantly. I understood how much I love running in cold weather (reasonable cold weather at least! I am not that masochist yet). It might sound crazy but Naplavka is my place for a nice cold run in these days.

There are few things that actually intrigue me of running in winter time. One is our natural resistance to cold weather. Are we built to workout in cold temperatures? Can our resistance be trained? While preparing for this post I revisited an old Tim Ferris podcast that I had listened about a year ago. In the podcast Tim was introducing Wim Hoff. (https://tim.blog/2015/09/07/the-iceman-wim-hof/). In the interview they discuss Wim’s Method of resistance to cold weather. He has been able to run a marathon in Finland at -20C in shorts. Not bad at all. I am intending to adopt his techniques and undertake some future races in cold weather. You can find more information on his website https://www.wimhofmethod.com. What is interesting is that Wim has developed a system that is based on breathing techniques. I find it very fascinating that somebody could develop a resistance to cold through meditation and breathing. Apparently you can train your body to develop resistance to cold weathers. I intend to tea this challenge on!

Furthermore, to boost my motivation, I am looking at some winter trails and would like to pick a nice special race. So Far have come across the following. If you have any in mind don’t hesitate to let me know.

https://www.sanssenja.no/eventer/sans-senja-aurora-run
http://www.msm.no/polar-night-halfmarathon.242499.en.html

Having completed this year the Midnight sun marathon in Tromso, I still have at heart the country. Norway is definitely on my list.
There is Antarctica too on my list of races to do. For now just a marathon but let’s see in a few years.
http://www.marathontours.com/races/antarctica-marathon-and-half-386
http://www.icemarathon.com

In Italy we have the following interesting races/trails
http://vialatteatrail.it
http://www.winterecotrail.it/it

All of which are snow based and represent an interesting challenge.

Last but not least on my list of winter’s races is a nice race in Slovakia on the High Tatras. I already completed a 3 day race in June 2016 and walking there recently made me think of some winter races.

http://www.sporttatry.sk/en/winter-running-series-2016-17

The pictures and the views are just amazing. This is a definitive must.

Last few words on the apparel, as its has its an important element to the topic. My greatest weaknesses are my hands and my feet. If I cannot cover them properly then I am going to have some serious problems. I do not know if I will become like Wim but I know that for now a good pair of winter running gloves and a good pair of breathable socks (to keep them dry and warm) are a must for me. I can live with light body layers as I get used quite quickly to the cold weather but for hands and feet I need my cover!

As a final piece of advice, just be careful when you go running in temperatures below zero. It is fun I get it but extremely dangerous. Be properly covered, wear the right clothing and be fit. The fitter you are the easier it will be for your body to maintain the right body temperature.