Cold Weather Training

After a very mild January, winter is finally upon us here in Baden, Germany. This past week found temperatures stretching down to -15 °C (5 °F) during the night and only reaching about -4 °C (25 °F) during the day, warm by some standards, cold for us. Having been raised in a cold hamlet in Upstate New York, where it could easily dip to -30 °C (-22 °F) or more, the cold slowed me down but did not prevent me from training.

For all practical purposes this past week was a recovery week from the 50K race that I ran the Saturday before. After resting the day after the race, I headed out for a short (6 km/4 mi) recovery run on Monday evening, where I was surprised to find my legs in pretty good shape. Encouraged by this, I ran a loop with my friend RB (Running Buddy) on Tuesday, braving some rather icy stretches of trail around our running club trails.

I had every intention of going to the pool on Wednesday night for some swimming, but this was the first day that the temperature really dipped down, so I wimped out. On Thursday my legs felt surprising good so close to finishing a long race, so I completed a 10 mile run, whereas the only problem I had was motivational, due to a combination of -5 °C and a bitter cold wind.

By Saturday the wind had died down a bit, so I headed out at 8:30 a.m. for a long run. The temperature was still -11 °C (12 °F), but I was dressed for success and made my way around the forested sections surrounding my area. I really didn’t notice the cold that much, until I tried to take a drink from my CamelBak, the hose was frozen solid…but after tucking it down my shirt for a while it thawed out enough to drink. I completed 28 km (17.5 mi) in around 3 hours, an average training pace for me lately. My legs were bright red and ice cold as I showered after the run, afterward I sat on the couch under a blanket for a while till they warmed up again.

On Sunday I ran by RB’s house and we completed a 10K loop through some of the same forest that I had run the day before. It was still -7 °C (19 °F) outside, but the sun was shining brightly, the kilometers seemed to quickly melt away, it’s always a pleasure to run with RB. It’s nice to see that her training is starting to pay off, she seems to be running easier than the past few months.

So I ended my “recovery week” with 72 km (45 mi.), the second highest mileage week this year and the first time I ran 5 days. My legs are in good shape for having run 50 km the week before. I did restrain myself from running my hilly route on Saturday, no sense pushing my luck. My next major event will be a 6-hour benefit run in the middle of March, followed by a marathon in April, and if my conditioning continues to improve a 12-hour race on April 30-May 1.