Why Run Outside with a Wind Chill of -26C?

Running in inclement weather is hard when the temperature is normal, in fact it can be down right difficult.  The wind may push against you and sometimes even make you feel like you’re going nowhere.  The rain can soak you to the bone.  Running in winter, however has it’s own set of rules.  Wind chill can be deadly.  Snow deeper than 2-3 cm can be like running in sand…but without the beach and scantily clad people.  Ice is the real run end-er: slip and fall or slip and twist or, my favourite, slip and pull a hammy.  Enough reasons to not run for some.

Manufacturer ModelWhen I “googled” ‘running in cold’ I had several sites come up.  All very detailed sites with advice on nutrition, training regimens, “fartleks”, “striding” and all very good at what they do.  But when it comes to “cold” they all lacked the real stuff.  Eventually I did stumble on to some excellent Canadian sites.  Not that there aren’t sites from other countries but let’s face it, we get cold weather.  A lot.  So here’s what I learned: In winter cotton is NOT king.  Cotton, while comfortable as all get out, retains moisture which in cold weather is really bad.  Cold moisture becomes ice.  Technical materials have come so far in the world of sport whether you’re an amateur or a professional.  Skiers now have socks that keep you warm but wick away moisture.  For a guy with sweaty feet, this is good news that can be translated into running gear.  I haven’t got all the top gear but what I got, works.  So why do I run in the cold?  Really cold weather?

I run because it’s part of getting out and being healthy…er.  The run is the thing.  I could have gone to an indoor track, I guess.  But that’s another reason I run: I hate being the gerbil on a treadmill.  For whatever reason, I cannot go to “the gym” and workout…a track is almost like that.  I run outside.  I am not a snob, but I just need to run outside and preferably in one big loop or out and back.  I may have to do “laps” to complete the long runs (longer that 15k) but that would be the exception due to winter.  In summer, it’s different.  Instead of a maximum 7 hours of light during some days in the winter, we’re spoiled with upwards of 17 hours of light in summer.  Edmonton also features one of the longest continuous park system in the world.  There are many “long runs” available in this amazingly beautiful River Valley Park system of both paved and packed trails – you’d swear you weren’t even in a city.

So why run outside with a wind chill of -26C?  I run because it’s Saturday, and Saturday is a run day.


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