We all love to feel good. We love it when we have a positive attitude, a healthy body and restful sleep. Running is one of those things we can do to help boost our moods. By upping the heart rate and increasing VO2Max (VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that one can use) for a period of time of no less than 20 minutes and at a rate of at least three times per week will increase endorphin levels, help firm muscles and burn fat and relieve stress, allowing sleep rather than insomnia. These are just some of the fundamental benefits of running. But what about winter running? Maybe you think that is for obsessive types or for the insane. But winter running is a very viable option. In fact, it is easier, more comfortable and more fun than you might have thought. The best part is that there are so many winter runners living around here right now.

Winter running is just like running in the summer but better. Well, let me qualify that statement. Winter running is better in the sense that one can dress for the cold. It’s different than dressing for heat. Heat is hard to get away from, save for running around with a fan, air conditioner, spray bottle, etc. There are people who like running in temperatures above 26C but the heat has a negative effect on many runners and non-runners alike.

Dressing for the cold is fairly straight-forward. Winter weather requires the layering of garments. For the upper body and for really cold weather start with a long-sleeved tee shirt, sweater, jacket, gloves, neck warmer and hat. Skip the sweater if it’s not so cold. The idea is to experiment. For the lower part start with fitted sports underwear, long johns, windbreaker pants (for really cold or windy days), running pants, wool blend socks and running shoes. There are winter specific running shoes but any pair of running shoes will do. On really cold days put a few pieces of duct tape over the shoe box (front part of the shoe). Be careful not to get any tape under the shoe as that will make a slippery surface. On windy and or snowy days it’s great to have goggles and a balaclava. These little accessories can make the difference between a fun run and a hard-fought chore.

Winter running requires different strategies than summer running. For instance, on a very cold day, it would be dangerous to get over-dressed, run out hard for 10 kms only to end up at the farthest point from home or shelter, overheated, tired, wet and getting cold. This situation can turn ugly real fast with hypothermia being a real possibility. It makes more sense to do shorter loop routes around a shelter if the plan is to run long and hard or rather don’t run too hard to avoid profuse sweating, overheating, etc. Pacing allows for longer runs on longer routes. Water also freezes so for long runs make sure that you have access to liquid water. I keep water inside my jacket on my long runs.

Many people won’t try winter running because they might slip on ice. Running on ice is a lot like walking on ice, by using good balance and paying attention to foot placement, it’s absolutely doable. I love to run on the river (when it’s properly frozen) and it’s some of the most beautiful running around. There are ice grips such as crampons and studs like hex screws that can be put into the sole of the shoe. Most of the time, however, the roads are pretty clear of the trails are snowy and there is little to no ice.

Our area is blessed with many great running routes. We have a variety of environments from running along the river, through fields, flat trails, wooded trails, mountain trails and scenic roads. We have many people who run so that beginners and people coming back from being away can rely on their support. They have a great running group in Hawkesbury called the Hawkesbury Runners. They can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/HawkesburyRunners/. They meet on Sundays at 10 am at the Chenail Cultural Centre on the island between Hawkesbury and Grenville QC.

Winter running is a great way to spend time with friends, family and others. Running with kids in the winter is a great way to share quality time and teaches discipline, perseverance, self-control, etc. I use it as a time to talk with my son. He is usually really happy to be out with me and our conversations cover just about everything a son and father can talk about, school, subjects, the whys, dreams, wishes, friends, family, etc. I go over math tables, geography, I speak French to him, it’s a great time to teach and learn.

When I run by myself, I have amazing business ideas (I think and so do my clients), I solve problems, I strategize and generally exercise my brain until my thoughts are nice and clear. In the winter the cold air, the stillness, the white, the sound of my feet hitting the snow, all the sights, sounds, smells and feelings that winter brings, my thoughts are even more focused. Running is always good for the brain.
Just make sure that you are visible. Bright colours and lights will help people see you. Be gracious of people sharing a sidewalk with you and remember to run against the traffic (To the left of the cars!). If you are trail running, let people know where you are going and when you should be back. Make sure to carry a cell phone with a full charge. Batteries deplete faster in the cold. Wear SPF on your face on sunny days. It may not be summer sun but you can still burn.

One last point I’d like to leave you with is that if you run in the summer and you keep running in the winter, you’ll never have to “start all over” again! You’ll always be beach body ready!

If you have any questions please email at [email protected] or call (613) 975-9790 and we’ll be happy to help you!

Stephen Sockett,