Monday, 05 December 2022 08:08

Training – Winter-Proof Your Running

Winter-Proof Your Running

This month running coach Jeff Cooper of 2RunForever gives you his 12 top tips to get you ready for running in the cold…
We all know how important it is to tune up your car for the winter season, right? Or to winterize your home BEFORE the cold and snow arrive (e.g. put plastic on windows, seal any drafts, maintenance check the heater, etc.)  So why not winterize your running.


12 Terrific Tips to Make Winter Running a (Cold) Snap!

1. GET “GEAR READY”…BEFORE THE REALLY NASTY STUFF HITS!  All too often, runners wait until the first big blast of frigid temps, or a big dump of snow, to go search for their thermal tights, base-layer tops, running gloves, mitts, headbands, wind-briefs, winter running socks, etc., and invariably can’t find stuff, or remember then that they were going to replace some of that stuff after last season, right?  Sometimes that leads to skipped runs, and/or less enjoyable first winter run efforts.  So consider your running goals for this winter spring, assess your anticipated gear requirements, and make a quick trip to the running store to fill in the gaps.  Then create a space at home (closet, laundry room rack, box system?) where you have everything you need organized and at the ready. This way, no matter what the conditions are, when the mood/opportunity (or “responsibility”!) to run hits, you don’t have to forage through a mess of worn out/lost gear before you get out there!


2.  PLAN YOUR RUN…RUN YOUR PLAN:  If at all possible, attempt to run into the wind when you start, and with the wind as you finish.  This stops sweat from freezing up on you and chilling you down as you progress into the later stages of your runs.  This also prevents wind from adding to the challenge of cold condition running, by letting you “cruise” home with the wind at your back-especially helpful on longer or faster runs when your energy may be lagging late in the run.  Also, try to run loop-shaped courses (with “cut short” options), as opposed to “out-and-back” routes.  That way, if you ever have to stop mid-run (i.e. muscle pull, ankle sprain, stomach cramps, etc.), there’s less distance between you and home-safe-home!

3.  BE BRIGHT-BE SEEN:  It is especially important to be seen by drivers in the winter, due to the darker conditions, poorer visibility, and slippery roads.  Make every effort to stand out by using reflective clothing, vests, or arm/leg bands, flashing lights and or headlamps, and never assume you have right-of-way in intersections, driveways, or parking lots.

4.  TAKE “EXTREMITY” MEASURES:  When running, your head, hands, and feet will feel the effects of very cold weather much sooner than the rest of you.  Up to 40% of body heat is lost through the head, so cover it up with a breathable, synthetic running cap or headband.  Also, ensure you wear a good pair of synthetic running gloves (or mittens if it’s really cold) which are relatively light weight and more breathable than “regular” gloves.  With socks, and go with a little heavier weight than you do in the summer for some extra warmth, and make sure to get the “crew” cut, not the ankle/mini-crew, to ensure no skin is exposed directly to the elements if running tights/pants ride up.

5.  BEWARE AND PREPARE: Bring cell phone, or coin(s) for telephone calls, money for cab fare, tokens for buses/subway, and I.D. for emergency information.  The extra clothing you wear in the winter gives you extra places to carry these things, so there is no excuse not to bring them, especially during cold weather, when the likelihood of needing them, and the risks of not having them, are higher than ever.  It’s also a good idea to inform another person of your route and expected run length as you head out, so that he/she knows when to push the panic button, and where to start looking for you!

6.  DON’T BE SLIP SLIDING AWAY: Many runners worry too much about icy conditions.  Obviously, if the roads and sidewalks are completely covered in sheets of ice, it’s best to retire to the gym’s treadmill, or put your run off till the next day.  But most of the winter we are faced only with icy patches and sections of rough footing.  For ice patches less than 10 metres in length, the best thing to do when you run across them is…nothing…at least, nothing different.  Keep your direction, speed, cadence, and stride length exactly the same as just before you hit the icy section, and you can cruise right across it on your momentum.  It’s only when you suddenly change your speed, rhythm or direction that you end up with a bruised torso.  With rough footing (snow, slush, uneven surfaces), its best to slightly shorten your stride for balance early, hold your arms out from your sides (hands splayed at the ready) and attempt directional and speed changes gradually and cautiously.

7.  RUN SOCIAL, RUN SAFE:  Running with others is still the best way to ensure your safety and enjoyment of winter runs, especially–but not exclusively–for women.  Also, when the conditions are absolutely fierce, it’s just nice to know that someone else went through what you did!  Make an effort to join up with training group or running club …you just may find that it’s not only safer, but more fun too!
8.  USE INTENSITY AS YOUR GUIDE, NOT SPEED:  When the footing gets poor due to snow and ice cover, runners lose up to 1 minute per mile (40 seconds/km) of “ground speed” at a given effort level, regardless of their normal running speed.  Faster runners transfer more power/force through each foot plant, so they slip more on each stride, losing more speed than slower runners, who lose less of their speed proportionately, but about the same “seconds per mile” speed loss.  Thus, it makes little sense to attempt to maintain the same running pace as you would on clear ground.  So either use your well-honed sense of intensity to moderate your pace, or invest in a heart rate monitor, which will do it for you!  As well, in complete or nearly complete snow coverage conditions, make sure, especially on longer runs (over 10 miles/15km) that you shorten the actual distance you plan to run, since otherwise you’ll end up running much further/longer that you or your training plan called for (i.e. on a 16 mile run you could end up running 16 minutes longer than you would have on a clear footing day…that’s like adding 1.5 to 2 miles more to your run than you’d planned…and in awful conditions to boot!)

9.  HAVE A PLAN B!  It’s very unrealistic to presume we won’t get hit by some rough weather stretches over the course of a 4-5 month winter, so no matter how “hardy” you are, and/or how much you pride yourself on being able to run through “anything”, it just makes sense to build in some options and flexibility to your winter running plan.  If you don’t own or are not willing/able to buy a treadmill (and at $3000+ and up for a good one, few are!), get a membership to a fitness club that has a good supply of high quality, well maintained treadmills, ready and waiting.   Even if you’re not an active aerobic trainer, or don’t regularly do strength training as part of your overall fitness regime (which are two more great reasons to invest in fitness club membership), inquire about a “3 month trial membership” for the roughest winter months (ie. January to March).  This way, you’ll have the option of switching over to a treadmill for key intensity workouts, steady state runs, or even (once in a blue moon, for sanity’s sake!) the odd long run, when the weather outside is too dangerous or depressing.

10.  WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE:  During the winter, many runners forego the re-hydration rituals they employ so diligently when summer running…don’t make that mistake!  You’re often still sweating as much as in the summer for a variety of reasons (hard effort, one too many layers), so maintain your regular drinking frequency…especially on long runs.  Extra tip…on very cold days, make sure you fill your bottle with room temperature water (or even lukewarm), since cold water will often freeze the spout and/or cap of your water bottles within 30-60 minutes.  Also…drink early and drink often…not just because your body needs it, but because the more you use your bottle, the less chance there is of it freezing shut!  Similarly, with gels, don’t pull them out of the fridge before you go, leave them out overnight at room temp, so they don’t start to thicken up in the cold.

11.  THE GREAT COVER-UP:  In very cold conditions, make sure to cover exposed skin (cheeks, forehead, chin, around eyes, etc…) with petroleum jelly, and/or wear a balaclava–just remember to remove it before stopping at any gas stations or convenience stores! (Trust me on that…funny thing happened one late night run I did years ago…but that’s another story)

12. “LESS IS MORE”: The great majority of runners, even experienced, technically savvy, post-synthetic revolution runners, tend to wear too much clothing (and/or too many layers) through the winter months.  We must learn to gradually test the limits of these space-age super-fabrics that we spend a good deal of money on, and trust that they will do what they purport to do-thermally regulate our body temperature by transferring moisture away from our skin…cause guess what?  They do!  The more you try this, the more comfortable you’ll be, the less money you’ll spend on apparel, and the less wash you’ll do after every run!

Friday, 12 December 2014 08:07

On the Trail – Rio Celeste Hike

On the Trail
Trail Spotlight: Rio Celeste Hike in Costa Rica
Photo courtesy of



Most of Costa Rica will be in the dry season for the next couple of months and that’s the perfect time for adventures on the cloud forest trails of South America!


The country’s stunning beauty and wealth of bio-diversity may be enough to convince even the most avid trail runner to slow down a bit to capture the full experience. The Rio Celeste hike in Tenorio Volcano National Park is truly unique. It’s a fairly strenuous hike with fantastic pay-offs including the surreal blue pools and streams, waterfalls, and natural hot tubs of the Rio Celeste river. Not to mention the abundant rainforest plants and animals you’ll see with every step on the trail. Off the beaten path, it’s uncrowded and worth every effort to get to. Take the time to explore this epic trail and you’ll never forget the experience.


Epic- Camp in the cloud forest at the entrance to the park for a small fee and you’ll be free to enjoy the hike for as long as you like. Start early in the day and travel the full loop to experience everything the trail has to offer.

Endurance-  It’s possible to stay at small hotels in the area and these can range from open air casitas to more modern luxury.

Day ride – It takes a little work to get to the park and the hike will require a full day to really enjoy the experience. It’s worth the time though. Hire a guide for the opportunity to learn more about all of the jungle plants and wildlife.



Tenorio National Park is located in the northern region of Costa Rica and is best accessed from the town of Guatuso. You’ll travel from Guatuso to the town of Bijagua, about a one hour trip, and options for travel include public buses, taxis, or organized tour groups. At the north end of the town you will find the road up to the park entrance on the right (if driving north). It is a rocky unpaved road so 4 wheel drive is necessary. You can also park at the bottom and hike around 3 miles to the park entrance.



A little over 3 miles total, it will take around an hour to get to the waterfall from the trailhead and 4-5 hours for the whole loop. Plan to have plenty of time to explore and enjoy all of the different attractions on this hike. There will probably be a lot of backtracking during the day. Elevation gain is moderate, less than 400 feet.



Trail conditions can vary greatly depending on the weather. Be prepared for a muddy, more challenging hike if it’s raining.
Hiking season:

December – May for the dry season.

Thursday, 04 December 2014 08:07

Gemini Adventures Holiday Shopping Event

Gemini Adventures is thrilled to announce our new women’s MTB and running tours for 2015! We’re celebrating with a holiday shopping event at PrAna Boulder. There will be snacks, cocktails, prizes, and a discount on the coolest gear in Boulder.


The Kokopelli Trail offers hundreds of miles of fun trails and stunning scenery. See it on a fully supported tour and all you need to worry about is enjoying the trails and hanging out with your friends!


WHEN: Tuesday, December 16th from 4-7pm

Be sure to be at PrAna at 6pm for our prize giveaways!


WHERE: PrAna Boulder

1147 Pearl St, Boulder, Colorado 80302


WEBSITES for more information:


CONTACTThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sunday, 21 September 2014 09:06

Update for 2015 Desert RATS Stage Race


Welcome to the 2015 Desert RATS race! Whether you’re already part of the RATS family or this is your first time joining us in the desert, you’re going to love this year’s event. Every year, we ask racers to take a post-race survey so that we can continue improving your personal experience. We continue to make improvements based on these recommendations and this year is no different. This year’s changes have been posted on our site and we’re excited to put those changes into place for next year. Here are just some of the changes that will make this year the best yet.

1. Earlier start on the first day of the event. The new start time of the race will be 10:00 am on Monday morning. The new early start time on the first day will not only allow the racers to put some miles behind them before the heat of the day but it will also give them time at the end of the day to recover, hydrate and rest up for the long day to follow.

2. Additional course markings on Day 1. In order to keep racers on course throughout the first day, we will have flagging highlighting difficult turns. Previously, racers followed the correct trails by a combination of maps, Expedition Journal’s written instructions and BLM sign posts. On the first day there are two turns in particular that do not have clear BLM markings and have led to wrong turns that will now be marked.

3. Three additional aid stations will be added on Day 2. In order to help racers along the long grind of the second day, two water drops will be turned into aid stations (Western Rim AS and Westwater Mesa AS) and will be stocked with food, drinks and staffed with medical crew. The third new aid station (Pumphouse Road AS) will be approximately four miles from the finish line. It will be that little boost to bring them in after they have been out there for a long, hot day.

4. Day 5 will begin at Dewey Bridge. This new start line will cut the 52 mile Expedition day down to 43 miles. By starting at Dewey Bridge, there won’t be a need to shuttle runners to the start line and will not only allow an earlier start to the day but it will also allow racers to climb into the mountains, through the hottest, driest, most remote section of the entire course before the heat of the day and on fresh legs. What was previously a water drop at the top of the road will now be the Canyon AS at 5 miles into the day. The shorter distance means that more racers will finish before nightfall and the cut-off at the end of the day will be midnight.

Friday, 26 September 2014 09:05

Training – Taper Tips

Glen Delman Photography
This month running coach Jeff Cooper of2RunForever gives tips to get the max out of your race taper so that you can get the max out of yourself on race day…
1 – Drop your volume progressively over the last 3 weeks pre-marathon, or 2 weeks pre-half marathon (as per your plan). This slowly stores up latent energy so that come race day you’ll have more in reserve than you have for months!


2 – Review the race weekend info EARLY (on race website or mailed materials), so you can plan carefully, manage last minute details calmly, and not find yourself with a pre-race crisis
3 – Daydream about race day! Start to visualize your race experience (a little bit 2-3 weeks out, a lot more in the final few days), with positive, constructive, realistic ideas of what it’s going to be like, what it will take to do well, what it means to do well, and very importantly, how you’ll react if certain things beyond your control don’t go as planned (weather, early pacing, re-hydrating and refueling, etc.). This process will raise your psychological commitment and readiness level so you’ll be much more likely to achieve your goals on race day when the going gets tough

4 – Keep busy, in NON-PHYSICAL ways with the extra time you now have on your hands. Reading (for pleasure, ideally non-running related), movies, game playing, spending time with family, visiting friends, catching up on backlogged (but not emotionally taxing or physically risky) odd jobs around the house, etc. This is one of the rewards of the training process, so embrace and enjoy it!

5 – Think about (but don’t dwell on) what’s NEXT. Develop a clear idea or two of what your “next big thing” will be after you’ve finished the race. This is a very important step that helps mitigate the severity of (or avoid entirely) PMS–Post Marathon Syndrome–a perplexing protracted malaise or depression which can follow in the days, weeks and even months after completing a RBD (really big deal) event. If you haven’t given it some serious thought beforehand, when you’re motivationally up, no matter how well your race day goes (and that includes “unbelievably well”!) then you can be hit VERY hard by the daunting question “So…Now what?”


1 – Drop the frequency or intensity of your run workouts. You need to keep those aspects up as you pull back on volume, in order to feel sharp and not fall into a funk (physical, mental or emotional) in the days before your race.

2 – Cram. Avoid the powerful temptation to put in “1 more zinger” during the last week or two (above and beyond your training plan), either to make up for training you may have missed, or because you feel so rested, ready and sharp (thus blowing the benefit of the taper itself!)

3 – Strength train right up till race weekend. Ideally you should drop your workout frequency back a little over the final 3-4 weeks (to only 1 or 2 sessions per week if doing more), and then remove it entirely over the last 1-2 weeks. The risks of a freak accident or fluke muscle or joint pull FAR outweigh any insignificant gains you might make in strength over those last few days.

4 – Freak out over “ghost pains or sickness”. It is amazing how many runners experience the onset of a curious malady (pain or sickness) with a week or less to go. 90% of the time these are perfectly NORMAL, largely subconsciously-triggered phenomenon in response to the coming challenge. If you don’t let them consume you with doubt, worry or fear, by race day, they will be a non-factor. I’ve gotten to the point where I almost welcome them, as they give my “problem-solver/worrier” attitude something to keep busy with instead of fretting aimlessly during race week!

5 – Try something physically new, like getting a race week sport massage, trying a yoga class or other seemingly non-demanding sport or activity. Keep things BODY BORING during during the taper–especially during race week. Trust us (from experience!), or come race day, you may well be lamenting your spontaneity. The time for trying “new stuff” is post-race (once you’ve taught your body how to walk again, that is ;o)

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