Cana­dian Trails

Bruce Penin­sula, Tober­mory, Ont.

Canadian Running - - FEATURES - Alex Cyr is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor for Cana­dian Run­ning and au­thor of the book Run­ners of the Nish.

We wake up, put on our com­fi­est pants and sip a hot bev­er­age while peer­ing at the light layer of snow on the drive­way. The low ther­mome­ter read­ing re­pels us from our sneak­ers, and the com­fort of our couch com­pels us to push our sched­uled run to the next day, next week, next sea­son. But to let our mileage slip and put off our work­outs to the spring is to miss out on the unique beau­ties of win­ter run­ning. These five rea­sons re­mind you why you should stop plan­ning your hi­ber­na­tion, and in­stead get ex­cited to haul your love for run­ning through the snow and into the new year.

1. You get to throw pace out the win­dow

Poorly packed snow, slush and the odd Christ­mas pa­rade threaten to slow down most of your runs and, con­se­quently, leave you with a choice. You can f ight the el­e­ments to nail down a sexy run pace to im­press the seven peo­ple who track the mileage data you post on a vir­tual log­book, or you can let bod­ily feed­back alone dic­tate your run­ning speed. Choose op­tion two and shield your­self from in­jury, burnout and pos­si­bly heartache.

2. Keep­ing your fit­ness is not ex­pected, but so re­ward­ing

The cold, sweets and fes­tiv­i­ties make it likely you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence a drop in fit­ness. That’s ex­actly why f lip­ping the script and dili­gently nail­ing a win­ter train­ing block is so re­ward­ing: it is the best way to qui­etly gain an edge on your com­peti­tor, and make them pay in the spring. Plus, who doesn’t want to be pre­pared for an im­promptu show­down at the com­mu­nity Santa Shuff le? Dis­claimer: off weeks be­tween sea­sons are rec­om­mended!

3. New in­jury-re­sis­tant ter­rain

Un­even and chang­ing snow-padded land­ing ground varies your shock ab­sorp­tion be­tween steps and may help strengthen sta­bi­liz­ing mus­cles in your legs, help­ing to elim­i­nate pesky mus­cle im­bal­ances. A thin layer of snow may also help soften the pound­ing on your body and voila!, you’ve used win­ter as a nat­u­ral in­jury-re­pel­lent (as­sum­ing you stay away from ice and chaf­ing run­ning tights).

4. Gain a men­tal edge

Quite sim­ply, if you can learn to put in hard work in the cold and snowy, you will be laugh­ing in the mild and sunny. Fight­ing with a Cana­dian win­ter’s in­her­ent ob­sta­cles will build your men­tal tough­ness and pre­pare you to tackle the world once the tem­per­a­ture rises and the snow­falls cease. Plus, there is some­thing about push­ing your phys­i­cal lim­its un­der sev­eral lay­ers of cloth­ing while see­ing your own breath through frozen snot that gives work­outs an awe­some Rocky Bal­boa qual­ity.

5. Milk­ing it on so­cial me­dia

A snowy beard or ici­cle-clad eye­lash photo on In­sta­gram is of­ten well-re­ceived. The same can be said of a tri­umphant Strava up­date on the cold­est day of Jan­uary, or a sar­cas­tic tweet aimed at your more del­i­cate train­ing part­ner who opted for the tread­mill. No, we do not run to f launt it on so­cial me­dia. Yes, we may use so­cial me­dia to share with the world that we did in fact make it home safely and free of frostbite.

TOP Run­ning on un­even ter­rain can help build sta­bi­liz­ing mus­cles and pre­vent in­jury

LEFT Adam Scotti post-run in Ot­tawa, sport­ing a glo­ri­ous ice beard

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