How to Run During Winter in Canada

Winter running has lots of challenges. What do you wear? How do you layer? What should you wear on your feet? How long should you run in the cold? Why do your lungs BURN?!?!

Yes, all those thoughts go through my mind when winter temperatures start gracing us in Nova Scotia. It usually only takes one run to (rudely) remind me of what piece of gear I was missing in order to make it a good run. I was recently asked what I wear on my runs to stay warm/safe. These are only my opinions, please share your tips in the comments.

Running in Winter in Eastern Canada

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Keep Your Feet Happy

We can have lots of snow in the winter but our conditions are always changing. If the roads are clear (sidewalks included), I usually just wear my normal running sneakers. However, don’t expect them to last after the winter months as the salt from the roads can take a toll on them.

I also have a pair of “gator” liners that you wear like socks. They keep your feet extremely warm and dry if you have to run through slush. I feel like I’m putting on a wet suit for my feet.

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Last year (or the year before), I invested in a really good pair of Yak Tracks for running on the snow and ice. Yes, sometimes we run on ice folks! You need some kind of traction under your sneakers for snow and ice, otherwise you’ll end up on your butt and/or injured. I’ve yet to try spikes in my sneakers but I plan to get a set to try out soon.

Warm Legs

It’s never fun running with cold legs. I wear anything from running tights to thermal running tights. If it is extremely cold, I wear a wicking base layer  (merino wool long underwear) under my thermal tights. My thighs get really cold in the winter and stay cold for hours after a run so I’ve got to layer up.

Keep Your Core Warm

I also have two options for my core. Right now (0c to -15c) I usually wear three layers. A thank top, a long sleeve base layer and then, a jacket. Any colder (think adding on windchill to those temps), I wear a long sleeved base layer, VEST for my core, then a jacket. I want to keep my core warm when I run.

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Neck Up

I wear anything from a Buff to ski/neck warmer that covers up to my nose. Honestly, if I have to cover my face that badly during a run, I’m really pushing it and I should just get on my treadmill. I also wear my sunglasses as I find the when the sun hits the snow it can be blinding.

I wear a running hat and reflective gear. I have a pair of running gloves that I wear however, on really cold days I double up and wear a pair of mittens over top.

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Some Tips & Tricks to a Good Winter Run

  • Pee before you run. Your body tries to keep your urine warm, therefore heat is being taking away from your extremities (hands, feet). An empty bladder means warmer extremities. This is a winter camping trick that I use all the time.
  • The first few km/miles of your run are going to be cold while you warm up. Keep running, it will get better. If it doesn’t, call it a day.
  • Dress in enough layers but not too many – this can be tricky.
  • Test out your run. Take your first kilometre close to home or where you park your car. That way, if you are still cold after 5-6 minutes, you can add on another layer.
  • Cut your run short if you have to. No shame.
  • Don’t worry about your pace, focus on just running.

So, here’s to lots of great winter runs, warm hands and feet and good km/miles in your running shoes!

What’s your best winter tip you have?

What’s your favourite piece of WINTER running gear?

What’s the coldest temps you’ll run in?

Quick conversions: +5C = 41F  /   0C = 32 F  /  -5C = 23F   / -10C =  32F   /   -15C =  5F

 

Valley Harvest Marathon 10k Recap 2016

It seems as if the Valley Harvest Marathon is now becoming a tradition during Thanksgiving weekend. I’ve run it six times! I’ve ran the half in 2014 (my PB), paced the 10k (1:10 finish) in 2015 and this year’s 10k. In 2013, I ran the 5k, I skipped it in 2012 as I was very pregnant with Hilary. In 2011, I ran the 5k and in 2010, I ran the 10k four months postpartum after Lilly. I only have one distance I haven’t completed….yet.

2016

Sunday morning I got up at 5:30 otherwise known as stupid-early o’clock and left the house at 6:28am. Acadia University is only a 15 minutes for me on a good day and I had no problems with traffic or road construction. I ran into some friends, hit up the washroom one last time and met up with Krystol who was running her 10th half marathon! I really miss running the long distances right now so I tried not to think about what distance I was doing. At 7:45 the half marathoners took off and then us at 8 am.

Traditional pre-race photo & Krystol finishing her half marathon.

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Before the race, I got to meet some  people from Instagram {teamaldred, fit_pedagogue and newshell73), some during the run as they passed by and then after as well. It’s always nice to put a real personality to a face from IG/Twitter and having a conversations beyond 140 characters or “heart likes”.

I stood by Matthew, the 1:05 pace bunny from White Rabbit Pacing. They are awesome and I felt a little disappointed in myself that I wasn’t pacing this race again. It was on my list of things to do this year but being injured and having an unreliable pace, I couldn’t commit. It wouldn’t be fair to the runners if I couldn’t keep up the pace. I didn’t see the 1:10 pace bunny so decided while waiting for the gun to go off, that I’d keep with the 1:05 (6:30/km) pace bunny however that didn’t last long.

My main goal was to run a steady race and don’t give up. Obviously, I know I could do the distance but with little training and motivation lately, my confidence was rather low. My Green Garmin beeped at the 1k mark 6:24…not bad. Comfortable. My stiff ankle was to be expected and that feeling went away after the first k. I hadn’t gone out too fast, as I have before at the beginning of a race. I was just where I wanted to be. 🙂

I was keeping my pace relativity consistent and had the 1:05 pace bunny behind me somewhere. I kept looking forward as I didn’t want to know how close I was with him. Then kilometre two hit: 6:16 – that felt nice even with the hills where people passed me right and left. My goal wasn’t to be fast, it was to race smart and steady…forget about everyone else passing you. Sometimes that’s hard to do!

As kilometre three hit we neared a long downhill where I tried to just glide down it easily. I grabbed some water took a sip and put the rest on my head and neck as the humidity was starting to increase a bit. The first place male was approaching us FAST and I was amazed by his speed. I then saw the first female! The next little stretch was flat so I picked up my pace a little more during kilometres four and five {see below}.

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I felt really good but knew I still had another 4k to go and didn’t want to push it too early. I hit the turn around spot and took a short walking break and was back at it.  Sometimes I find this long stretch of road very daunting and was trying to focus on other people running in the other direction.Occasionally I would find someone to catch up to and pick them off one by one – I’ve never done that before.

I saw Kendra who was running fast shout “stay strong”.  After the straight stretched we approached another hill, near the Irving station (for those that now the area). I slowly moved up the hill passing people walking and heard a women saying “great job, looking strong pushing up the hill” which gave me a little boost. I then had to stop at the top of the hill to catch my breath. I conquered the hill but knew my limits and took a good walking break which is reflected in kilometre seven {6:46}.

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As I approached 8k, running downhill then up another my fitness level or lack of started to show. Taking 6-7 weeks off consistent running really takes a told on your body. Though I was active by cycling, yoga and swimming it wasn’t enough to keep me in running shape. This is when I just kept thinking “one foot in front of the other” with a few brief walking breaks. This was a rough patch.

I had nothing left but a long incline with lots of people watching everyone finish. As I approached Raymond field (track), I was just done. That last little incline or what felt like a long incline took the last bit of energy out of me. As the group of people bottle-necked the entrance to the track, I took short steps and slowed down enough to catch my breath again. It felt relieving. As I ran on the soft track underneath my feet my body felt happy and I was able to pick up my pace. It felt nice finishing strong around the track and turning off my Green Garmin at 1:03:59. Not a PB but such a great run for me right now. I couldn’t have asked for a better run/race and time. Though I’m still a good 8-9 minutes off a PB, it felt great.

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My ankle felt great post run which was also a key piece to this run. The Physiotherapy and exercises are working. I saw lots of friends and chatted with them before I realised Krystol would soon be finishin. I decided to walk the track backwards so I wouldn’t miss her and saw her approaching the finish with the clock ticking 1:59:xx ….she made it under 2 hours! I was a little concerned for her as she came across the finish line not looking great so I immediately got her attention and met up at the end of the chute. She was 2 seconds off a PB and has been dealing with Achilles pain for a month now.

Another great run/race done! No regrets, no complaints, no “what ifs”. I ran into more people who successfully grained new PB’s which is always awesome. Thank you Valley Harvest Marathon committee for a great event, it’s greatly appreciated. And thank you to all the awesome pace bunnies from White Rabbit Pacing.

That was a long post…thanks for sticking around. After my run, we drove to the city for Thanksgiving dinner with my family and had such a great visit and I ate all the food!

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I think that is my last official race of the year! I’m hoping to run a Santa Shuffle in December but that’s it for big races. My head is spinning for next year but I need to focus on my PT and some good cross training to avoid injuries next year.

Anyone race last weekend?

Do you use pace bunnies?

Canadians – how was your thanksgiving weekend?

Have any holiday races planned in the coming months?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Wish I Was….

On this beach with my husband and girls……….

Brackley Beach in Prince Edward Island.

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or this one……

Basin View Provincial Park, Souris {PEI}

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OR hanging/running on the boardwalk in Charlotteown {PEI}.

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Or eating Cow’s Ice Cream and hanging with this guy…

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OR listening to this song on repeat while driving in the car together.

Basically, I wish I was still on vacation with them 🙂

Have you taken a summer vacation yet?

What did you do? 

What’s your favourite thing to do on vacation?

Summer Fun List 2015

This past winter, I never would have thought we’d see the hot summer days ever again! Man, we got blasted with snow storm after snow storm from the end of January to the end of March. IT.WAS.NUTS!

That being said, I’ve been writing down things I wanted to do this summer with our girls. It’s now turned into a summer fun list. These are very specific to Nova Scotia (where I live) and hopefully lead to a lot of great adventures:

Bridgetown Playground

  • Strawberry pickingdone.
  • Go to the Bridgetown Natural Playground (pic above) and have a picnic
  • Swim at Lumsden’s Beach
  • Hike the trails near our house/play in the stream
  • Trip to Prince Edward Island
  • Hit up a beach on the South Shore of Nova Scotia (1.5 hours or so away)
  • Girls – weekend with Grandparents & Me – weekend with my girlfriend who’s expecting in Sept.
  • Camp in the backyard with my family (or camp site if time permits)
  • Go paddling with my family
  • Swim in a lakedone once already.
  • Go to the drive-in theatre – probably sans kiddo’s
  • Complete all my long runs
  • And of course…snuggle with a new niece or nephew later in the summer 🙂

There are more things I want to do this summer with the fam, but I’m keeping it to this list for now.

What’s on your summer fun list?

Traveling far or staying local this summer?

Hope you enjoy your summer!

Cheers, Piper 🙂