Canadian Running

Winter Running Countdown

- By Brett Basbaum

10 winter-wonderful running hacks

Getting through a winter of running in Canadian climes is no mean feat. Here are some clever ideas to help get you through the season with no angry body parts at all (let alone mean feet).

Throw your clothes in the dryer for a few minutes before you set out, so you can start your run feeling warm and cosy.

Do a warmup of dynamic movements before you head out the door, and wait until you’re back home to do your post-run stretches.

Layer up and choose great winter materials, like merino wool. Start your run with a loop around your block, so you can stop and drop off a layer once you’re warmed up.

In a pinch, trail shoes make an alternativ­e to winter running shoes, as they offer better grip and water resistance than regular runners. If driving to meet your crew or try a new trail, bring a thermos with hot chocolate, tea or coffee to enjoy as soon as you’re back in the car.

Run with friends or join a run club as a way to stay motivated (and accountabl­e!) throughout the winter months.

Choose a spring race and get registered to give focus to your winter training (see our list below list for some ideas).

Volunteer at a local race. Seeing everyone racing will help motivate you to keep running this winter. (Just make sure to dress in multiple layers—it’s much colder when you’re not moving!) While the weather outside might be frightful, winter running in Canada can still be delightful. Running in snow, ice and cold will slow you down and work the body differentl­y, but that’s no reason to retreat to the treadmill. Gear up, grab your crew, start slowly with the goal of fun and fitness (not PBs!), and embrace the season. Our lists of tips and tricks will have you running in a winter wonderland in no time.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

9 wishful ways to fantasize during a winter run

While we’re all for being present and running mindfully, in the depth of winter, distractin­g your brain might help get you through your workout. Here are some things to think about to get your mind wandering.

Carb-loading for your next run with brunch (pancakes, bacon, eggs, coffee, waffles, hot blueberry syrup, more coffee…) A post-run hot shower, lingering bubble bath or a soak in the hot tub (in this daydream, we all own hot tubs).

Napping under multiple duvets (after all, we were out and running while everyone else was still in bed; we deserve this!). Cuddling your pets (the ones you actually live with, or, since we’re fantasizin­g, feel free to imagine an animal sanctuary). Tucking into the next steamy episode of Bridgerton. (Who are we kidding? We’re going full post-run binge.)

Curling up on the couch with a good book (or the latest edition of Canadian Running!).

Stretching your muscles in a hot yoga class (40 C is sounding pretty good right now).

Yoga class? Dream bigger. How about a fantasy yoga retreat in Mexico or Costa Rica?

And while we’re fantasizin­g about travel, let’s do some destinatio­n race dreams. Think Disney World, or better yet, running on the beach in Hawaii.

9 worthwhile winter accessorie­s

We reached out to independen­t running stores and asked which winter running accessory they can’t live without.

Kylie at Strides Canmore in Alberta suggests starting at the top and keeping your head warm with a beanie or headband. A Buff or something similar to wear around your neck can be pulled up over your face for protection from the elements.

Dan at the Runner’s Den in Hamilton recommends thermal underwear, like wind boxers (for men) or Sugoi ’s Bun Toasters for women; Mizuno’s Breath Thermo line is another great choice.

Gord at Gord’s Running Store in Calgary says waterproof Gore-Tex shoes with spikes (or microspike­s that go over your shoes and can be removed when you hit bare pavement) are essential in icy conditions.

Jimmy at Quebec City’s Le Coureur Nordique agrees, and suggests grip studs, which screw into regular running shoes to give extra traction. But he adds that when conditions get really extreme, specially-designed running snowshoes that simply clip onto running shoes are the way to go.

Nick at Frontrunne­rs in Victoria says a safety led vest should be a part of everyone’s winter/night running attire. One of their biggest sellers is NiteVest, and another popular brand is Vizyvest. Add one to your letter to Santa right away!

Luke at Aerobics First in Halifax recommends a shoe dehumidifi­er to quickly dry out your kicks. You just slide your wet shoes on to this nifty gadget, and a forced warm-air system does its thing. (Some even have a warmer on a timer, so you can start your winter run with toasty tootsies.)

Hand-warmers have come a long way since those little disposable packs (though the ones you buy at Canadian Tire still work in a pinch). There are now rechargeab­le usb pebbles that slide into your mitts. (Some even double as backup power for your phone.)

Gloves have had an upgrade too—touchscree­n gloves so you can access Strava without exposing your hands to the cold are a must, and battery- or usb-powered heated gloves are definitely something for the wishlist.

7 woe- and worry-busting effects of winter running

The dark, cold months of a Canadian winter can take a toll on your mood and lead to a case of the winter blues. While it’s by no means a cure-all, winter running can help your mental health in a number of ways.

Running releases feel-good chemicals that can help stave off feelings of depression in the long winter months.

Getting outdoors in winter will help you connect with nature, which can build positive feelings.

If you can get a run in sunlight, you’ll get a dose of moodboosti­ng vitamin D.

Repeated exposure to cold weather can help tone down your body’s stress response to the cold, making winter easier to deal with.

Running with a friend or a crew gives you the benefits of social connection.

Taking on the challenge of winter running builds confidence and gives a feeling of accomplish­ment.

Keeping up your fitness throughout the winter months will save you all sorts of grief when your spring run club starts up.

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