Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Too cold for running outside?

Some days it's really too cold for running!
A funny thing happened during my journey through injury and recovery these past 4 months:  I don't like running in the cold any more!  How did that happen?

Once upon a time I enjoyed even looked forward to running in ultra cold temperatures.  Base layer, tights, windpants, toque and facemask made running not only tolerable but actually enjoyable.  And I had some great cold weather runs including two favourites:  Anchorage, Alaska and Regina, Saskatchewan.

I was in Anchorage 25 years ago shooting an advertisement for for my client, Isuzu Trucks.  We hit upon the idea that if we showed how tough Isuzu Trucks were in a foreign environment then they would be more than good enough in Canada.  It was a pretty good idea and it worked.  It also meant a 10 day trip to Alaska in January to shoot the photography.

Now Alaska in January is cold!  The temperatures weren't significantly below what we experience here in Toronto but the wind off the Bering Sea or North Pacific (take your pick) made the temperatures seem a lot colder.  I didn't go out for a long run that morning in January but it sure was fun to run along the snow covered streets of downtown Anchorage at 9 am in the morning ... in the pitch black!  In Alaska in January they only get 5 - 6 hours of sunlight each day with sunrise around 9:30 am and sunset at 3:30 pm.  I learned about sunlight deprivation that trip.

My second memorable cold weather run happened in Regina, Saskatchewan about 15 years when I was on a business trip with Dairy Queen.  This one was not as enjoyable. In fact it was downright scary.

I always ran early mornings on business trips.  That's where 'That Running Guy' has it's roots:  my colleagues would shout that out if they saw me heading out for a run.  At 5 am that morning after donning all my running gear, I headed out from the downtown hotel for a short 6 K run. It was -40 Degrees Celsius! And to use the Prairie cliche, 'It was a dry cold'.  I thought I was prepared.  For the first 3 K things were OK.  I didn't notice that the slight wind was at my back.  It was only when I turned for the run back to my hotel that things started to go awry.

The wind in my face combined with the sweat started me shivering.  "This is cold, really, really cold" I remember saying to myself.  I started to slow down.  For the first time in my running life, I felt scared.  I knew that if I stopped running, things would get really bad. I kept shuffling along and managed to make it back to the hotel.

After I had recovered from that run and while watching the early morning TV news a bit later I learned that with the wind chill, the effective temperature was around -60 degrees C.  Yikes! It's no fun freezing to death running!  

I've never run again in Regina conditions.  And recently I've found that even -10 degrees Celsius is uncomfortable.  Age, stage...some days it really is too cold for running!

Until next time...
ThatRunninGuy

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I'm raising funds for the Heart & Stroke Foundation in 2013.  My goal is to raise $2,000 by December 31.  My planned races in 2013 include:

  1. The Sporting Life 10K, May 12
  2. The Toronto Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 1/2 Marathon, October 20
  3. The Reggae Marathon, December 7.  
Please join me on Facebook at Run for Heart.

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