Winter running — not as tough as you think

Click to play video: 'Winter running in Montreal'
Winter running in Montreal
WATCH ABOVE: While many Montrealers would rather hide from the cold, others are thriving in it by running outdoors. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, it may not be as tough as you think – Jan 14, 2018

Staying fit during the winter months can be difficult when you enjoy the outdoors.  Especially when temperatures plunge to levels like it has for the past few weeks.

But for some, winter running is perfect. This is photographer Tim Snow’s third winter running and he loves it.

“Montreal’s got a long winter, and if you don’t get outside during the winter, you’re not gonna get outside,” he stresses.  “You’re just going to stay inside, use a treadmill, and that’s not for me!”

It doesn’t matter to some runners — like fitness columnist Jill Barker — if they get strange looks from others who wonder why on earth anyone would do such a thing.

“I love running in the winter!” she laughs.  “I love the sun. I’m a cold-weather runner and you get bonus points and hero points for running in -23 C!”

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A number of runners braved the cold Sunday to get their mileage in, some training for winter running events like the Hypothermic Half Marathon.  It’s an annual race held at various times during winter, in cities across the country.  According to the event website, the first event was Jan. 14, in Halifax, and the Montreal race will be held March 4.

Now, you might wonder how on earth they manage to run in winter when it’s freezing cold.  According to Barker, it’s all in how you layer.

“You wanna start with a nice base layer and then go to fleece,” she explains, “Then go to something wind and waterproof.

“There’s also a Canadian’s favourite — the balaclava, very key!”

You can wear ordinary running shoes with thick socks if the pavement is dry, but when it gets icy, you need special running shoes with built-in crampons.

“Really, it’s not the cold, you can prepare for the cold,” Barker adds. “Good gear makes the cold a lot easier. It’s the footing.”

Snow cautions that overdressing is a mistake because you risk overheating and sweating.  It’s when you sweat that you get cold: “The second you start running your body heat cranks up a bit, and you’re fine. Once you’re moving, you’re good.”

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On really cold days, Snow applies Vaseline to exposed skin and doesn’t worry too much about it.  He says he’s gone running when the temperature was low as -35 C, and it doesn’t surprise him that there are others who also run when it’s very cold.

“I find Montreal — we’re hardy.  You know we want to get outside in the winter.”

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