Running with the elements

It was less than two months ago that I ran the Athens marathon wearing my lightest running outfit as the temperature was over 20oC. Yesterday, I went out for my long run wearing my warmest running top, a hat and two pairs of gloves as it was a freezing 2oC. I lasted an hour and a half before my hands started hurting and I couldn’t feel my head but I completed the distance I had set out to run. It was the only day that everyone out for a run nodded to their fellow runners, even more than on Christmas and New Year’s days. As runners we often have to run against the elements. I live in Greece and marathon day is early November, so all training needs to be done in the summer where the temperatures soar over 35oC and all long runs need to be painfully started the latest at 6 o’clock on a Sunday morning. But for me what I find most annoying is the wind, as I live near the sea and here windless days are a rarity. There is nothing worst than a 6 Beaufort (something like 20 miles per hour) head wind when trying to run your 400m repeats at the track. But what does one do? Postpone training for a cooler, warmer, less windy day? Or go out as well prepared as possible, while adjusting the training schedule to make it work with the weather? I opt for the second one as I know that perfect running days do exist but are rare and few. So if the weather forecast is predicting 37oC and I have a long rung scheduled for that day I try to go out extra early wearing the lightest gear I own, while I never forget my running belt with water and an isotonic drink. If I am supposed to be doing interval training I leave this for after sunset, which in the summer it means I won’t start training before 8pm, but it is impossible to run when the sun is still out. For the cold winter days I wear a couple of layers, hat and gloves and make sure I have warmed up really really well if I am doing intervals. Some of those technical running jackets, although not thick, provide fantastic protection against the cold (Pearl Izumi jackets are superb). Wind is one thing that no one can do much about but adjust one’s training and face the fact that they will work harder but not achieve great times. For example if really strong winds are blowing I change my 400m or 200m repeats for 300m ones trying to miss the side with the head wind. But sometimes those 400m repeats just need to be done anyway and they really hurt. I hope running with resistance will make me a better runner…

Despite all I have said though I never however forget about my safety, as running in extreme hot or cold weather can cause health problems. I have always run to the point where I felt ok and never ever tried to complete a run when I have started to feel unwell and entered unknown territories.

I used to train with my running club whilst living in London and we never missed a session, regardless of the weather conditions. So even though I am now training alone I still try to stick to this principle as much as I can. After all, it’s nice to bond with the other (few) runners that are out there with me at 6am on a Sunday and nod as we pass each other.


One Comment Add yours

  1. That’s exactly the spirit


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