Barefoot in Winter Part 2

Rod Begg (aka BarefootYOW): Ottawa runner new to barefoot running (2010)
Goals: Run healthy and squeeze in a marathon
Interests: Running and sea kayaking (year round)
Favorite run: Rain forest of Guyana

How cold is too cold? My limit is -40°C. OK, you might be thinking that I may have escaped from the funny farm. I’m not alone in extending my running in the cold. The Running Room held their annual Hypothermic Half Marathon, on January 23. What I find impressive about this event, is that the Winnipeg, Ottawa, Halifax, and Moncton locations all sold out. Lots of people paid to run 21K in the cold. How cold was it, in Ottawa? With the wind chill, it was -38°C. Running barefoot in this event — not a chance!!!

Here’s a picture of some of the Ottawa participants:

Ottawa Hypothermic Half

What stands out for you, in this photo?

Everyone has a hat and neck covering. The guys are using ski goggles. They are all layered up. They are all wearing shoes (I have to concede on this point – too darn cold for exposed toes). What I noticed is that the second woman (in all black) has taken off her mitts. She’s too HOT! There were guys with beards completely frozen, people wearing winter jackets, and one guy in a garbage bag. But this woman is too hot. My toque is off to her.

She also demonstrates a key point to winter running – Do Not Overheat! Dressing in layers and having the ability to ventilate heat buildup is a primary key to not becoming too cold. Get the warm moist air away from your body is best for preventing the inevitable cool down later. Another key point is hydration. You have to drink water, because you actually exhale more moisture in the winter. It can be tricky carrying water. Water and cold equals ice. Struggling with a frozen water bottle is not a good scenario. I’d recommend a water pack carried on your back, preferably under your outer layer.

Well Dressed!

I was so inspired by these hardy souls that I went for a 10K run on snow packed trails. Our local creek was almost completely frozen over. The jets sounded like they were only 100m overhead. The snow scrunched and squeaked under foot. The sun gleamed off the icicles on my balaclava. It was a truly beautiful day to run. Get out and find your limit — you may be surprised.


Next: Part 3 – Feet, Meet Mr. Ice and Snow


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