Water is still hard. Wind is, too. The only soft things out there are the freshly chewed skidoo trails, and the bits of me that aren’t frozen yet.
Running these trails is very rewarding, in a few ways. I’ve been enjoying watching my seasonal totals build into substantial blocks of work, and seeing substantial shoes pounded into floppy socks.
Both are featured in the image above. My winter shoes (Saucony Peregrine 7 Ice+) are well beyond the 500km mark, but because of the snow treatment, they look pretty much as they did the day I won them. They are noticeably worn though. At least from the inside.
Training Tip: Athlete to follow – Rhonda-Marie Parke
First off, I want to point you to something she wrote. The best blog post I’ve read.
In that post, she describes what might be the toughest race she has done, but what got my attention was earlier, when she ran the Bruce Trail.
The whole thing. Over 800 kilometers of craggy, shiggy trail.
She claims that she was sober when she decided to do it, and that sounds a bit unlikely, but the more you look into this athlete’s achievements, the more unlikely things get.
She earned a prestigious ‘DNF’ in the Barklay Marathons, and maybe most impressive, has ran down one Mr. Parke. Ran him down so well, in fact, that she got to keep part of his name.
Another elite athlete I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting. Maybe she’ll be at the Calgary 50k this May…a guy can hope, right?
Another cold day, but warmed by a friendly invitation to run with Paul and Mara.
Today’s run started earlier than usual, in order to fit in with Mara’s schedule. Turned out to be a great choice. Beautiful, sunny and clear day. I have to say, daytime running is a whole other kind of pretty.
I ran some treats along, and offered them to Mara. She liked them, and hustled them into her food-carrying apparatus (her stomach) so we could get running.
Paul and Mara set a pretty stout pace, which had my heart rate significantly higher than it is when running alone. Fine with me, since it means I’ve set a good pace on the segment along the way, which is the subject of todays training tip, a favourite trail.
Training Tip: Favourite trail – Marylyn Robertson Trail
This trail, described by the strava segment here, is the main route along the north side of Frame Lake. While the trail on the other side has paved trails, this side is bare rock with a few boardwalks and some lovely stairs.
The side by City Hall is certainly called ‘McMahon Frame Lake Trail’, but I call this part differently because of a couple of memorial plaques which are at either end.
The strava segment is quite lively, with 121 competitors showing at the time of writing. Strava reports that this segment has 18m of elevation difference, but they don’t say how many times you get to do it.
It wasn’t the coldest night, but I left my sealhide gauntlets at home. After stopping to take a leak just before coop, all the snow melted on my gloves, and my hands and upper body were pretty chilly the rest of the way home.
I was a bit reluctant today, due to the cold. I was out earlier for some snow clearing, so I knew I was right about it, but I’m glad I went anyway.
Going through the usual route, I saw a few others strolling, ran into Buddy the dog, and again had Stock Lake Trail all to myself.
Judy was kind enough to pop out at the end and take a few photos of my ice beard.
Training Tip: Walk up the stairs
For a few reasons, this makes good sense.
The stairs are often caked with snow and one of the more northern reasons is that the top of the hill is likely to be in the wind. Taking it a bit easy on the ascents allows me to be ready to run faster (to generate more heat) on the more chilling sections.
I do sometimes push up a hill, it isn’t always critical to my comfort to take it easy, but I generally plan an easy run, and crank up on the fly if I feel like it.
Today’s route was going to be a bit out of town, with a pal. With the weather as cold as it is, he and I opted for a better day.
I was texting with a training partner, Joe, who lives in Norman Wells, NWT. It seems he is dealing with very similar temperatures, but a good deal more wind. He has been wearing ski goggles to combat the worst of it.
It reminds me gently that Yellownkife isn’t – by FAR – the toughest place to train.
Joe has been an inspiring training partner in part, because of the challenges he faces. Training for him is like being in Yellowknife, except that it’s cold, remote and a small population. He gets it done just the same, and most importantly, seems to celebrate even his most challenging runs.
It was because of Joe that I signed up for this race. I was texting with him one evening and he let me know that he was going to do the 50k race in Calgary, for his 50th year. I liked the idea so much, I signed up right away. I’m looking forward to comparing notes through our training.
Tonight’s run was brutally cold. As I stepped out, thinking everything was covered, I noticed that my forehead was getting very cold. I realized I had left my glasses on, so tucked them in a pocket.
With that heat-sink gone, my face warmed up enough. My left foot was still a bit cold, even though I was wearing my winter runners.
Speaking of winter runners, I usually just use regular shoes, but last year, I won a pair of Peregrine Ice+ 7, from Saucony.ca . They had a contest with the hashtag #wearewinterwarriors and it seemed kind of cut out for me. I really noticed the extra warmth, especially on the coldest days.
The day they announced my win, was my second day of recovery from frostbite. I had burned my toes just a couple days before, by being too ready to go on. Great timing, kind of cemented the lesson.
As I got to Coop, one of my ‘checkstops’, I thought it was wiser to avoid the trail, do the colder lake crossing first. It was cold, but manageable. Even comfortable, once I got a steady rhythm going.
After touring Somba K’e Park, I headed toward the Legislature where I would cross to begin my circuit of Niven Lake. It was still a bit too cold, and I considered going straight back via Franklin (shortest route). It was still not too bad, so I tried the trail.
Should have known. It was warm and beautiful. OK, it was still -30 or -40C, but with the wind cut, and the concrete behind me, everything just seemed better. I popped out of the trail by Coop and checked out the mess by the big leak. Water has flowed almost all the way through the tunnel, creating ice. As I expected, skidoos have been roughing the surface and it is easy enough to run on.
I’m convinced that the regular paved surfaces are colder on my feet than foot-packed trails. Good news, since I like running in there more anyway.
I’ll still make time for the ice road, of course 🙂
Training Tip: Wireless headphones – Staples warranty
I have had several pairs of headphones through my sweaty running adventures. Wired pairs quickly failed, usually at the in-line switch. When I got my first Plantronics Backbeat fit, they were a treat. After about a year though, the near-daily sweat/air-dry/charge cycle did them in. I got a second pair, and they died the same way. (an examination showed extensive corrosion of the PCB inside the earpiece on both after failure)
Next, I took a different tack. I went to ask about the warranty they are always trying to sell me at Staples.
I talked to an associate about my preference, and we tried a wired pair. They failed fairly quickly, and we (warranty to the rescue) tried a different pair. They are great, and though they failed later on, Staples just replaced them again. Warranty is worth more than brand preference for me.
I’ll be looking to Staples, and their awesome, local warranty replacement service, for all my electronics. The Associate tells me they sell running watches, maybe they also sell Petzl lights. I mean, mine is good, but I’ve been running and charging it almost daily. It can’t be expected to live forever 🙂
Just like yesterday, but a bit colder due to lack of company 🙂
Daily outdoor running, through winter is sometimes tough in unexpected ways. Today, when going to get dressed, the clothes I expected to be dry were not yet.
OK, laundry confession time – I don’t launder my running clothes every time.
WHEW! Good to have THAT off my chest!
So I have this maze of drying woolies, which are in a special rotation. One hat ready, one drying and another in backup. That sort of thing.
I’m lucky enough that I have all I need to meet my running needs, but it’s a reminder of how many things can screw up a run. I wore the same shoes today, and though they felt ok starting out, I’m pretty sure they were still wet, and I felt it by about 2 – 3 km along. No biggie, I wasn’t dangerously cold.
Running the same route as yesterday, I quite enjoyed it.
Yesterday, being accompanied by a local runner, I found myself asking her if her toes were ok, as if it were for her own benefit.
I mean, I DID think it was, yesterday.
Today, running past those spots, I remembered even more firmly about my self-check of my toes and other vulnerable bits. Because of this, I am reminded that ‘preach what you practice’ is also a helpful approach.
Wouldn’t I be embarrassed if, after warning her about frostbite, I let myself get burnt?
If you check out todays last photo, you’ll see a group called the Javarunners. This gang, started by a super guy, Mr. Magrum, has been running Yellowknife, summer and winter, for years. I wanted to mention them to show that, not only can I run outside every day, but LOTS of people, from all kinds of running backgrounds, run outside here. It is a BEAUTIFUL way to enjoy the winter, and once you get the gear sorted out, it’s not uncomfortably cold at all.
These happy faces should convince you, but if they don’t, just join them one Saturday morning at Javaroma for a run! They usually meet at 9, but you can find them on facebook for more info.
Training Tip: Garmin graphs – Ground Contact Time Balance
This graph tends to be a bit more useful, at least in retrospect.
It tells you how much time your foot is in contact with the ground, relative to the other foot. I’ve mostly ignored any difference of 1% or less (my surface conditions are fairly irregular) but if the difference gets larger, it draws my attention back to form.
One example was that during a recovery run, after an injury, I thought I was fine, but when looking at the graph, I was favouring one side heavily. This delayed my return to high-effort work, and may have saved me further injury.