Friday, January 13, 2017

RUN4RKIDS 8-hour Indoor Ultra - Saturday, January 7th, 2017

This was not what I expected.

When I heard "indoor track", I went in with a couple of assumptions: a nice, soft, rubbery surface in a warm building. I actually nearly brought a pair of trail shoes, thinking I could probably get away with them on the track and solve the problem of not having worn road shoes for more than an hour-long run in recent months.

Haz disappoint.

Imagine my surprise when I turn up and discover that while there is a nice, soft, rubbery track, we would not be running on it. Our course would be the outside lane, which was cement. A thin coat of terra cotta coloured paint would be our only cushioning from the absolute worst surface for running. I'm seriously glad I still had a pair of my beloved original Brooks Launch without too much mileage on them, which I fortuitously brought with me to start.

Of course, we did get to do a bit of running on the soft, rubbery inner lanes. We'd change direction at the top of each hour, pulling a U-turn just past the timing mats onto the inner track to run 'round the curve before moving back out to the horrible cement outer track. While it was a minor relief from the pounding, it came at a price.

CAMBER
The curves of the inner track were cambered, which meant after trucking along on completely flat ground your ankles, knees and hips now had to deal with running side slope. It hurt enough the first couple of times I did so that I noped the hell out from about hour 4 onward - I'd just walk the curve and then (maybe) start running again once it flattened out and we transitioned back to the outer, 232.49m track.

Air conditions weren't much better: while I'd assumed that York University would keep their indoor track & field centre cooler than regular room temperature, I had prepared to be warm while running: I wore very light summer kit, and even brought a couple of cooling fabric multifunction tubes to wet and wrap around my wrist or neck, plus a cooling material t-shirt that I've written about before to try to keep my totally-not-heat-acclimatized self from overheating. Fat chance of that - the temperature never got above about 11c/52f the whole day, with huge ventilator fans blowing a chill blast over the track that seemed to be worse when turning counter-clockwise. People were running in long sleeves and sweaters! There was almost zero humidity, too - absolutely awful for me with my lingering sinus issues.

Regardless, I had punched my ticket, so I might as well take my ride. I'd tapered (mostly) for this, woken up at 5am to scarf down a bowl of rice porridge with almond butter and maple syrup, and made poor Tanker the Wonder Sherpa drive into Toronto at an ungawdly hour on a ridiculously cold (-13c/8f) morning. At least I bought him coffee and breakfast! I'd also sported about half a household's worth of crap along with me, so might as well put it to good use.

When the race director says they won't have anything but water on offer due to financial contraints, I bring ALL THE THINGS.

I set up my gear while Tanker the Wonder Sherpa swung into action as a volunteer, then I used the washroom facilities, flailed my appendages around a bit in an attempt to warm up, reluctantly gave up my sweater, and ended up Grover dancing for some reason just before the start.


I swear there was some reasonable explanation behind this..

There were some pre-race announcements, and then everyone gathered around their starting line - the folks doing the marathon in one spot, and all the other races (half marathon, 50k, 6-hour, 8-hour and 12-hour) by the timing mats.


So many chilly skinny people.

Very little fanfare - I'm not even sure I heard anyone say go, but everyone ahead of me started to move - and we were off.

Obviously, there's not that much to report about the course, since you could pretty much see all of it from the start line.

Timing mats down on the left

It took me ages to figure out the V-shape in the middle was for hammer throw.

I ran around in circles and ate a lot. My sinuses really hated the dry air, and every part of my lower body hated the cement track. My original idea going in was to start with a run 5 laps/walk 1 lap strategy, but it's incredibly mentally difficult to make yourself walk early in the race when you're feeling fresh and everyone around you is running.

So, of course, I didn't. I'd pause at my little table every few laps to take a sip of water from my bottle (my mouth was really dry from the sinus cold and the lack of humidity), then started on nutrition around 45mins in with a swig of EFS Liquid Shot. Over the course of the race I'd go through an entire flask of EFS, nine S!caps electrolyte tabs, a single-serve peanut butter flavour Gu gel, a single-serve of Endurance Tap maple gel, 4-5 bite-size pieces of banana from the aid station table, a few Tostitos Rolls tortilla chips here and there, half of a big chocolate chip cookie, and half of an even bigger turkey wrap with mustard. I also unabashedly slurped sea salt chocolate Gu Roctane directly from the bulk package, 'cause I'm classy like that.

It's amazing I managed to run at all.

Tanker being his awesome self at the much-better-stocked-than-anticipated aid station table.

Despite all this face-stuffing, I actually had no GI issues all day. I did need to pee around 90mins in, with additional washroom breaks around 5hrs and 7.25hrs, but thanks to walking a lap or two each time I'd eat "real" food and washing it all down with lots of water my digestion actually felt pretty good. It's nice that something did.

Don't let the smile fool you - I'm in horrible pain.

The cement track was beating me up pretty badly. My left knee and VMO started to get grumpy, then got worse when we changed from clockwise to counter-clockwise. Something in the left side of my groin started to complain around 2hrs in, but then fortunately went away again. By 3 hours in I had developed a hot spot under the 2nd toe on my left foot, but chose to ignore it while internally yelling at myself that I need to get better at stopping to fix my feet instead of just carrying on regardless. If I ever want to run hundred milers I need to get out of the mentality that "it'll either get better or fall off". This is not sound strategy! I did, however, continue to turn a deaf ear to its cries for help.

Whiner.

My reward was a blister on the bottom of the toe so freakin' big it actually ballooned up between my 2nd and 3rd toes as well. Maybe if I'd done the 12-hour it would have wrapped all the way 'round? We'll never know. What's awesome is that it turned out to be one of those blisters that looks really horrible at the time but you never hear from again once the event is over. Seriously - not a peep out of the monstrosity that grew inside my sock since. It just deflated and will probably slough off the dead skin in a couple of weeks. This does nothing to dissuade me from my approach of willful ignorance.

So here's a picture of Grant and I instead.

At some point the folks doing the timing got their laptop to jive with the twin projectors and screens they had set up by the timing mats, so as you came through the start/finish you could see your lap split, number of laps completed and distance completed so far. This was pretty cool, and actually helpful in a way - as the hours pressed onward and the pounding started to accumulate, I did walk a bunch of laps and it got progressively more difficult to get myself to run again. I could, however, keep myself running until I reached some arbitrary number: either a round number of laps or a particular distance.

My full splits. There's a lot more walking in the second half.

Occasionally I'd pick up the pace a little just to change the muscle recruitment a bit - the unvarying flat track didn't give me a whole lot of variety, even with the change in direction. I started naming laps (snickering like a teenager on lap 69, 151 was the rummy lap, 180 was "good darts score", 242 was Headhunter, etc..), and my brain started doing stupid things like hallucinating that a brown plastic bag one runner had left near the track was a whole roast turkey.


I also took my phone out for a few laps here and there, which is only marginally less insane.

Some other weird stuff went on at various times throughout the 8 hours as well. It felt very odd running completely unencumbered - I hadn't worn my usual racing top as I didn't need pockets, and I didn't carry anything with me (not even my watch) until the second half when I started to bring a water bottle with me more while running. Despite this, my shoulders got very tight and sore before I'd even gone 4 hours; I spent the latter half of the race periodically stretching and swinging them around to try to loosen them up.

Possibly from t-rexing even worse than usual..

I made 42 laps for my first hour and 81 by the end of the second, not knowing how much I'd be able to do but having set a goal of at least 200 laps (46.5km/28.9mi) for myself when I started that morning. With my random pauses and walking breaks I was through marathon distance (42.2km/26.2mi) in 4h52m - not exactly a PR, but not too shabby for a sick girl in not much of a hurry.


I'M ONLY RUNNING SO I DON'T FREEZE TO DEATH

The next goal was 216 laps, as that would give me 50k. It was pretty sweet to pass that point before the 6-hour mark, as it was only my second time ever running a sub-6-hour 50k (the other being what I consider the best race performance of my life). 

Another odd thing - when I'd drop to a walk in the last few hours, I'd feel a little lightheaded. I'm not sure if it was due to a blood pressure issue or lack of calories, but I tried eating more through the latter portion of the race and it seemed to help. I'm still not totally familiar with all that happens to a human when running longer than 6 hours, and I've heard from Tank that I wasn't the only one who experienced the lightheadedness, so maybe it was something about the venue. Who knows?



I bet Joe or Grant could tell me - those guys are ultrarunning legends!

Having passed the 50k mark, the next goal was 250 laps, which I made with just under an hour left. By this time I was really hurting - my left ankle hadn't been turned or tweaked, but was still complaining loudly about all the pounding on the harsh cement, and while my quads were basically ok (advantage of no hills) my glutes and hamstrings were feeling pretty wrecked. At some point near the end even the left side of my mid-back tightened up, though that went away when I started to pay a little more attention to my posture. Perhaps I'd been slouching into the curves as I ran around the track counter-clockwise during the last hour?

I had made 258 laps - my stretch goal of 60km/37.3mi - and still had time left. If I could pull off a 38min 5k after nearly 7.5hrs of fairly consistent movement, I could finish the day with more than 40mi in the bank. Tanker said he believed I could do it, so I went for it.

What did I have to lose?

Surprisingly enough, my lap times (when I was actually running) didn't really degrade that much as the hours pressed on. I was clocking a pretty consistent 01:30 per revolution, even managing to pass the fast group of guys (who were mostly admittedly running the 12-hour) at one point around 7-odd hours in. It seems I have a pretty solid (if slow - 6:27/km or 10:23/mi) pace even when tired - I just walk a lot more when the fatigue gets heavy. By the last couple of hours I'd definitely slipped into the "run 4 or 5 laps and walk 1 or 2" I had envisioned from the start.


Yes, running was still happening even at the end.

I came through the 280th lap for 65k with just under 2mins left to go, having run the last 6 laps / 11mins in a row - the longest stretch I'd done without walking in quite some time. I decided I couldn't leave it at that, so went for one more.

See? Definitely still running.
At 01:26, it actually turned out to be my fastest lap of the second half, no less.


Official Distance: 281 laps / 65.33km
2/3 O/A - only female in 8-hour

I'm pretty pleased with my endurance through this very strange event, and despite the monotony I was able to stay pretty cheerful throughout just by passing a friendly word here and there with my fellow runners. While I'm not sure that I'd do this particular race again (I'd rather be frolicking through the woods!), it was a good experience to learn from as it was only my second time running more than 50km. It also pushed me to get some longer training runs in during the winter and step outside my comfort zone a bit: things that should serve me well as I continue my Sulphur Springs 100k campaign. 


Sense of accomplishment!

I never used the extra pair of shoes I brought along with me, though they were a pair that have a very soft midsole that might have helped cushion the pounding a bit. I might have also fared better if I'd known that I'd be running on cement, and thus put in some long training runs on roads & sidewalks as opposed to doing all of my long runs on trails. Conversely, I might have ended up too beaten up (or injured) from running long on hard surfaces and been unable to get the volume in that allowed me to run as strong as I did for the duration of the race. Hard to tell which is the better approach, especially since there's no way I wouldn't have felt the effects of running 65km on cement (blecch!), but I do know I enjoyed my adventures on the trails more than I would have slogging along on the road!

Recovery has been going ok, despite the shower I took at the York Track & Field Centre after the race nearly having seared the flesh off me (the sign said "showers may be too hot for some" not "showers may be used to cauterize open wounds"!), plus some chafing around my bra band and chub rub areas that I swear was a result of barely having broken a sweat in the chilly, dry air. Now to heal up from some emergency dental surgery this week and get down to business again - just 8 days left until Frosty Trail!

Friday, January 6, 2017

The most ill advised yet?

2017 hasn't been super kind to me so far.

New Year's Eve got off to a great start: after a really wonderful, snowy trail run, I changed at the car and we hiked up the trail for a fantastic meal (ok, more like 2.5 meals) at an incredible local barbecue joint.

I hadn't yet seen this part of the trail in winter - it's breathtaking!

There are no photos of the ridiculous quantity of animal parts we consumed.
Even the collard greens had bacon in them!

After hiking (more like waddling) back to the car, we drove over to Bingemans to check out their Gift of Lights display, some of which I'd run through earlier as the trail. It's quite an impressive bit of work, including animated figures and a neat tunnel of lights that I got to run through twice on foot and once in the car.




By the time we got home and I'd managed to shower, I was in rough shape. I spent the rest of New Year's Eve prostrate on the couch, sniffling and coughing in a torpor. Tanker roused me to some kind of life a few minutes before midnight, we watched the CBC coverage at Parliament Hill to kick off Canada's 150th year, and after a bit of stand-up comedy I dragged myself upstairs to bed. Party animal!

The first few days of this brand new year have been spent agonizing over a series of car issues (that we finally seem to have sorted out - knock wood!) and fighting a sinus infection with swelling severe enough to cause stabbing toothaches and incessant phlegm.

And the throbbing - OH GAWD THE THROBBING

Thankfully, it's never progressed past "head stuffed with goo", so I've been able to continue getting some fun stuff in, like our New Year's Day cross-country ski (and hot chocolate brew-up in the woods):


So happy the Mill Run Trail is (mostly) open again.

Plus a backyard campfire to end the first day of the year:

We only found out once we were out there that it had dropped to -10c/14f.

I've kept on running, too, though the workouts have been fairly short and I've been prioritizing sleep (for once in my bloody life). Apart from being ill, I'm trying to ensure I might have some hope of getting through Saturday.

At this.

Despite some lingering snifflyness and the recent Arctic blast of air (windchill of -20c/-4f for last night's run) being the worst thing possible for heat acclimatization, I do still intend to at least show up for the RUN4RKIDS 8-hour indoor ultra. I have no idea what I'll be able to accomplish in my rather diminished state (which I'm assured is not communicable), but I'm going to give it a whack. I hope to manage at least 45 or 50 kilometers - enough to really call it an ultra - but I simply won't know what's possible until I get out there and moving. Having never run an 8-hour before, nor run on an indoor track, I have no benchmarks or performance expectations - I'll just show up and put one foot in front of the other until either 8 hours or my tolerance has expired.

Please, no bets on which comes first.



Friday, December 30, 2016

Dear 2016

We may have had some good times together, but right now you're like a drunken party guest who's overstayed their welcome. You're not making any sense, I'm too tired to deal with you, and the longer you linger the more stuff seems to get damaged.

Therefore:

AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON

Wishing you all a wonderful New Year!



Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Confidence-mas

I'm a bit of a weenie about some things.


Way back in the summer of 2010, I tried running a local easy, non-technical trail after dark. My headlamp was only cranking out about 15 lumens (a sick glowworm probably sneezes out more light), it was 8c and raining, and I could barely see. I had intended to run it out-and-back twice for 20k, but by the halfway mark on the trip out I was petrified. I stuck it out to the far end, and on the way back my knight on shining mountain bike appeared in the darkness - Tanker the Wonder Sherpa had come to save me, and helped light my way as I scuttled back to the safety of street lights to finish up the run. 

Go toward the light..


Since that ill-fated evening, I hadn't tried running trail after dark again until a few weeks ago. A friend had admonished me for my lack of nighttime trail runs and invited me to come run with her at some point, but after buying a new (and much brighter) headlamp, I decided to head out on my own one evening in early November. I even went back to the same trail, and had much more success - I even enjoyed it a bit. 

Even if Tanker did take a "last seen wearing.." photo before I set out.

Fast forward just shy of a month and I felt like a bit of a badass for running another easy, flat bit of rail trail after dark without a headlamp for the first 9km, just because the moon was bright enough to light my way until I got into some coniferous forest that blocked its light. The next day I raised the stakes again, running yet another bit of rail trail through town after dark while a flurry of snow fell. Not enough to accumulate on the ground, but enough to give that neat running-through-hyperspace feel by the light of my headlamp.




I had, however, turned down the opportunity to go for a Saturday night trail run with some friends because I thought they would probably be running more aggressive terrain than I was comfortable with yet. A week later, winter had blanketed the region, and on Sunday night I went and ran the original rail trail in 4" of fresh snow while even more fell around me. This time I didn't use my headlamp at all for the 10km out-and-back; the sky was so bright from the clouds reflecting the glow of the city that I didn't need it.

It was enchanting.
Seriously one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life.

I still hadn't run anything technical in the dark, though (I don't count getting a bit lost in the Agreement Forest at dusk), and was somewhat dreading it. We got a big dump of fresh snow on Friday the 16th, and I knew it was supposed to freezing rain on Saturday afternoon and into the evening, so I wanted to make sure I got the 4hr ramble I had planned around Puslinch Tract done early in the day to avoid all that.

Because this seemed like enough of a challenge on its own.

Problem: we got home late from my company Christmas dinner quite late on Friday night, and were tardy rolling out of bed and down to the market. By the time we'd put our groceries away, had a bite to eat, and done all of the necessary prep work, I hit the trail in the first of the freezing rain showers with just an hour until sunset.


Whoops..

It was hard bloody work slogging through the fresh snow with the weight of the rain on top - while some fat bikes had been through some of the trails and packed them down nicely, it was knee-deep in other places. I got through about 1h45m before stopping at the car to refill my hydration pack with water (I didn't want to run out while somewhere inaccessible), then switched my headlamp on as I headed back out in the fading light. I managed almost another 2 hours in the silent darkness as the freezing rain continued to fall, occasionally catching my small beam of light and tricking me into thinking there was some other weirdo out there stumbling around in the snow.


Knees up!

It took me 3h40m of moving time to cover 27km, and by the end I was completely knackered. I had, however, finally run some technical trail in the dark - and survived! I'd also put in my longest training run prior to the Run4RKids 8-hour (just over 2 weeks away now) in some pretty tough conditions, leaving me with a welcome sense that I might just have made some fitness gains and recovered from the load of fall racing I did.

As just one more little Christmas present to myself, I did a bit of basic math that has me feeling slightly less terrified about not being able to use trekking poles for the Sulphur Springs 100k next spring:

  • Dirty Girls had 2 major climbs per lap. I did 9 laps - 18 climbs - and only used poles for the last one. Thus, I climbed 16 times without poles.
  • The Fat Ass Trail Run BadAss 6-hour had 2 major climbs per lap. I did 7 laps - 14 climbs - and only used poles for the last one. Thus, I climbed 12 times without poles.
  • Sulphur Springs has 2 major climbs per lap, and I only have to complete 5 laps equalling 10 climbs total.
Now admittedly I've never run more than 72km in a day and I'll have to climb Martin Road at both 79km and 99km, but at least I can take some comfort in the fact I've already done more unassisted hills in a day.

Before I sign off for a long weekend that promises to be filled with Christmas cheer (by which I mean I have 8 million things to get done before my Mum arrives on the afternoon of the 25th to spend a couple of days with us), I'd like to wish every one of you a season filled with love, laughter, joy and light.



From Tanker the Wonder Sherpa and some dork.

Even if it turns out that the darkness isn't so scary after all.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Eight months

Eight months to the day between runs in the snow at Huron Natural Area.



The last time was a catalyst for so much that happened this year.



I abandoned the pavement for my long runs.



I let go of the mindset that walking and stopping weren't allowed during a training run.



I decided to take on the biggest challenge of my life





I found beautiful hidden places in forests that I'd never seen before.



I got much stronger as a runner, and feel like I might have actually arrived as an ultrarunner.



I have set even loftier goals for the future, while delving deep into my own mind to discover the reasons why they're important to me


I have frolicked like a deer through wind and snow, feeling both strong within myself and weak in the face of the incredible power of nature.


I'm facing my fears - trying to break their power over me.



And I wonder who I'll be in another eight months from now.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Seems Like Science: Cold Weather Coping Strategies

I don't know where you are, but around these parts winter has just made a sudden arrival. As if to compensate for its tardiness, it came howling down with all guns blazing: I went from running in knicks and a shirt on Monday to full-on windproof XC ski pants and a neck gaiter over my earband last night as I ran through an inch or two of fresh snow. While I know how to approach running in cold weather, I still have a tendency to freeze afterward.


I AM ICE. NO WARMTH EXISTS IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE.

As the weather worsens for most of us in the northern hemisphere, I thought I'd do another installment of Seems Like Science to share with you my cold weather coping tips for outdoor athletes. These are as applicable to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or cycling as they are to running - good for anything that gets your heart pumping outside in the cold air and leaves you chilled once the adventure is over.

If you're one of those treadmill-or-trainer-'til-spring people, you can move along now. If you're made of a bit tougher stuff, read on.

1. Get Out of Wet Clothing


A mop can be helpful for cleaning up after..

The most basic thing you can do to prevent the post-workout chills is to get changed out of the gear you wore outside. Even if you weren't actively sweating, the fabrics will have absorbed some of the moisture that your body is constantly releasing and will carry the cold of the outside air. By ditching them as soon as possible for warm, dry layers, you'll prevent that moisture from leaching your body heat away - after all, sweat is how our bodies cool themselves naturally, but you want the opposite! Ladies, that means your sports bra needs to come off, too - it's actually one of the worst offenders, since it wraps around your ribcage stealing heat from the very core of you. Get it off, post haste!

Ideally, you'd be doing this in a heated area, where you'll then start to absorb warmth from the air as well. However, it's in your best interest to change even if you have to do so in a cold place like your car or an unheated washroom at a trailhead. The longest I'll drive to get to a warm area to change is about 10 minutes, and even then I'll probably get a bit of a hard-to-shake chill going as I move from the car to indoors. There are a couple of products out there (like this one - which I have owned for awhile and heartily endorse - and this one, which I'll be trying out soon) to help you change outdoors with a little more modesty and warmth than just stripping down beside your car.

That said, you do you. I've never shied away from a little parking lot nudity if that's what it took to get me on my way to WarmTown. All you really need to do is make sure you've packed some clothes to change into - even if they get chilly in the car while you're out getting your sweat on, you'll still be warmer just a few minutes after changing than you would be if you'd stayed in your cold, wet clothes. It's one of the first principles of treating hypothermia!


2. Hot Food

OMNOMNOM

You know you're supposed to have a bite to eat to help with recovery after a workout. When it's cold out, there's nothing better than something nice and toasty to nosh on just after you've changed out of your sweaty gear. With a bit of pre-planning, you can have a hot meal before you've even returned to your resting heart rate, even if you're at a far-flung trailhead when you finish. For a relatively small initial investment, a vacuum-insulated double-walled stainless steel food container is an invaluable source of post-cold-workout happiness: just fill it with something hot before you leave and you're ready to chow down as soon as you've changed out of your wet clothes. Heck, eat while you're changing if you can manage it - I certainly won't judge you. If you don't have anything capable of keeping food warm on its own, try wrapping a watertight container in a towel and putting it in a cooler bag; most vessels designed to keep food or drink cold will also help keep them hot, as you're just changing the direction you're trying to prevent the heat from moving.

If you can't have hot food, at least eat something - if it must be cold or room-temperature, try something spicy or with a high protein content, and lower in fat. Your body generates heat (known as diet induced thermogenesis) when you digest food of any kind, but the energy required to metabolize protein is higher than that needed to process carbohydrate or fat, and spicy foods like hot peppers have been shown to boost metabolism, which will warm you up as well. Endurance athletes should be replenishing carbohydrate stores after long workouts, but you can increase the thermic effect of the CHO by choosing complex carbohydrates that require more energy to break down than simple sugars.

My favourite things for post-trail run munching are soup and oatmeal: with their high sodium content to replace electrolytes and carbohydrate-heavy composition, instant noodles are actually a great choice here. I love these ones, but you can pick your favourite. Preparation couldn't be simpler, either: just boil some water, pour everything in, then seal it up and it's ready to go. It's equally easy to prepare the noodles or instant oatmeal at home, too: have the kettle ready before you head out, then switch it on as soon as you get back. Let the boiling water work its magic while you change, then add whatever you like to your oatmeal (I love some sea salt, maple syrup and almond butter stirred into mine) or noodles and slurp away! If you have some hearty soup or chili pre-made at home, all the better - pop a serving on the stove or in the microwave to heat while you change, then go to town once you're all changed up.


3. All the Clothes

And this is just to hang out in my livingroom!

Because I know I tend to get cold easily after a workout, I will typically put on clothing that is appropriate for at least 5c/9f colder than whatever conditions I expect to encounter. Basically, whatever you think you'll need, add one more layer. Bonus points if you have something cozy to wear that also makes you feel like a badass, like a hoodie from a favourite race. Also make sure you keep all the places where the veins and arteries are closest to the skin covered, like your wrists, ankles and especially your neck - you want to keep all of the blood circulating through your body from losing as much heat as possible.


4. Hot Shower or Bath

It's only the steam that prevents this from becoming crayon porn.

This is THE BEST. If you're running from home or can make it back there (or somewhere else that they'll let you shower, like a fitness facility at which you're a member or even an understanding friend's house), hop on it and let the hot water and steam work its magic. While moisture is your enemy when it's just sitting on your skin, wet heat is about the most effective way to warm yourself back up when you're cold. The bonus here is that you'll also wash off all the stank you worked up while you were out there sweating, and as long as noone does something inconsiderate like opening the bathroom door to let all the heat out (or chucking a big cup of cold water on you over the shower curtain - NO I HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN THAT TANK), you should be able to keep yourself warm while you use your biggest, fluffiest towel to dry yourself off and put on all the clothes (see point #3). Do make sure you get properly dry, though, otherwise you'll just end up shivering in your now-damp change of clothing.


5. Hot Drinks


Not the most effective way to warm up, but certainly pleasant - a big mug of something hot can be a great addition to the above strategies. I'll often make myself a big cup of non-caffeinated tea to sip while I make dinner after an evening run, but for those of you who get out earlier in the day, a hot cup of coffee (or caffeinated tea) can be just the thing to give you both some warmth and a bit of energy to get on with your life outside of sport. If you're not into tea or coffee, try some chicken broth (also a great pick-me-up during a long, cold race!) or a steaming mug of hot chocolate. A vacuum insulated double-walled stainless steel container of homemade cocoa waiting for you at the trailhead (again, put it in a cooler bag and/or wrap in a towel for extra insulation on those super cold or very long workout days) can make a huge difference in your happiness at the end of a chilly training session or race.

HAZ TEH HAPPYZ

I hope these tips will help those of you who struggle with chills when training or racing in cold weather, and invite you to leave a comment if you know of any others to try - I'm always looking for new ways to hang onto the meagre bit of warmth I generate, and I'm sure Tanker will eventually get sick of me attaching myself like a barnacle to him in order to engage in a little body heat vampirism!

Stay toasty, my friends!