Monday, October 29, 2012

Winter Time Challenge

Well, here we go - the Daylight Saving Time is now officially done and dusted for this year, Winter Time (as we Finns call it) is here again. Blaah. I may have mentioned earlier that I'm a summer person and the sunlight is something that makes me feel alive, so this darker period of the year is always challenging, to say the least. I also hate being cold, living in the country where the temperatures can drop to -30 °C or even lower is pure torture sometimes. Luckily the normal winter temperature is quite a bit milder, around -5 °C or so. Oh yeah, we just got our first snowfall of this winter a couple of days ago. Even though the snow is not expected to stay yet it's still the first reminder of what's ahead of us, once again.

Outdoor exercise becomes even more challenging during the winter months. My good workout routine has come to a hault
so many times before when the days become shorter and the weather colder. Now it's time for me to accept the challenge and keep going through all the four challenge levels, if needed:

Level 1: Darkness
Challenge: It's dark when you go to work in the morning, it's dark when you leave work in the late afternoon. In my opinion running or walking is so much nicer when you can actually see the road. Really. Also, seeing other people and their dogs from a bit further away than just 1 meter is quite nice too, unless you are hoping to get a heart attack. There are no streetlights where we live (well, just 1 km stretch a few hundred meters from our house) so when I say it's dark it really is dark.
Solution: Finding a well lit outdoor track somewhere further from home. There are quite a few well maintained and lit outdoor tracks and paths around my home town so that should be doable. Also going for a walk or run somewhere in the town centre right after my work day is another option, though my knees and shins don't really appreciate running on asphalt.

Level 2: Darkness + ice 

Challenge: OK, so you are running somewhere on a road or path which is nicely lit so you can see where you are going. Imagine having that covered in ice - or as a bonus, first having a good layer of ice on that road and then some water or a really thin layer of powder snow on top. Then try to stay on your feet - rather than on your behind, potentially breaking one of your body parts while landing.
Solution: Buying proper winter running shoes that have good spikes on them. And are warm, too. I have read from some running forums that the winter running shoes might not be the most comfortable to run in, hopefully I'll be able to find a good pair. Nordic walking poles help with the balancing act too, but they can't really be used for running... or can they?

Level 3: Darkness + ice + snow

Challenge: When you have found a perfect well lit outdoor track for running it will eventually be covered with a good layer of snow. What happens to those well lit tracks in Finland then? Most of them get turned into cross-country skiing tracks, of course. And what happens then? You are not allowed to run or walk there anymore, since you're going to ruin the skiing tracks.
Solution: Find yet again another well lit outdoor route, probably somewhere in the town center area, on those asphalt roads (ouch). Well, I still have to get my running training done...

Level 4: Darkness + ice + snow + cold weather

Challenge: Being able to breath without getting your nostrals, throat and windpipe frostbitten. According to the doctors I'm prone to asthma and I get bronchitis very easily so going out in extreme temperatures is not advisable. Going for a 10 - 15 km run in -15 °C or even colder temperatures isn't a good idea.
Solution: There's still that ice hockey arena I told you about earlier, which has a 261 metres long running track. The air is considerably warmer, even though the ice rink still cools the arena down quite a bit. Running that 261 metres 38,3 times just to reach 10 km (or 80,5 times to reach 21 km) sounds so incredibly boring, but I guess it needs to be done.

Luckily I didn't have to try running on challenge level 2 this weekend, since my Personal Trainer gave me a week off from running. And next weekend I will do my running training in Madrid, Spain! No ice, snow or cold weather there, yay!