A (brief) return to winter running

Every Christmas, I come back to Canada. Sometimes there’s no snow at all. Other times, like this year, there are piles of it. And this time, not only are there piles of snow blanketing everything in sight, but there’s an extreme cold warning with temperatures below -15C nearly every day. In fact, my Dad tells me this has set some sort of new cold weather record for the area.

I like to run in the snow when I’m home. For the novelty. It’s usually just a few days, and then I go back to the temperate climate of London. But the truth is, I’ve gotten soft. Yesterday, when I set out for a run, I could really only manage 5K. My face was so cold that I could barely move my lips when I got home. My fingertips were numb with pain and my quads and butt were freezing. It was a beautiful day though. The sun was shining making the snow sparkle. It was eerily quiet – just the sound of snow blowers as people cleared their driveways.

The only thing that wasn’t cold were my feet. I wore a bushy pair of merino wool socks; the same ones I wore to climb Mount Kilimanjaro! I tried to document my experience, but the extreme cold zapped my phone battery to nothing in less than 20 minutes.

I cannot believe that just a few years ago, I ran and trained in this sort of weather all the time. I would run 15km+ on an average run and it seemed totally ordinary. Just a regular winter’s run. Yesterday seemed extreme by comparison. Like I was some sort of Arctic explorer narrowly avoiding death by frostbite.

Earlier this week, we did a little run on Christmas Day. While the weather was slightly less frigid, the snow-covered sidewalks proved a bit treacherous.

Most of it is covered up, but check out my new shirt from InkNBurn!

One delightful side effect of running in the snow is that it does a great job cleaning your shoes! Caked on mud from months of Parkruns is miraculously gone!

The more sensible thing to do in weather like this is to take your workouts indoors. Last weekend, I went back to Cyclebar in Toronto for a class with my husband and in-laws.  The first day was 90s nostalgia, complete with music videos. The second class was a mix. Both were excellent and after I came in 20th (in a class of 42) on Day 1, I managed to sneak into the #10 spot on the second day… even though it nearly killed me. That class seems to bring out my competitive side!

A very sweaty bunch post-cycling class on Dec. 24!

We head back to London a few days so I’m going to try and get out for another short run. After all, this is my only opportunity for real winter running all year. And besides, it’s warmer today! Just -12C!

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