Running

Runners now have a little spring in their step

There are many differences between running in the winter and spring

A runner laces up their shoes, ready for the warmer outdoors.
A runner laces up to get ready for the warmer outdoors.   Alexandra McVittie

Many Haligonians are switching their snow boots for running shoes.

Bruce Bowen of the Halifax Running Room runs year round, citing the stress relief and the sense of personal accomplishment as the greatest benefits.

“For a lot of runners the spring is good because you are coming out of the gloom of winter. You are shedding layers and the promise of summer is there,” says Bowen.

In spring due to the mild temperature, your body doesn’t work to heat itself up or cool itself down, giving you more energy to run.

Spring runners also have the light on their side. Bowen says in the winter, those who schedule their runs in the early morning or evening are in complete darkness.

Springtime is the perfect season for novice runners to begin training. The warmer weather and lack of snow and ice make a jog around the block more enjoyable.

“As the weather starts to improve, runners become more apparent,” explains Bowen. “They start training for the first few events in the year like Blue Nose marathon or half marathon or 10 K.”

Earlier this month, Canadians set their clocks forward one hour, leaving many runners to look forward to training in daylight again.

“It’s difficult in Halifax. In the winter it can definitely be hit and miss with sidewalks,” says Christine Krochak, the outreach co-ordinator at Mountain Equipment Co-op. She helps organize the beginner running program and the weekly MEC run/yoga meet-up.

MEC hosts a race in January, and Krochak says the most “hearty runners” are those that run in the middle of winter.

“We’re talking about people that insert screws into the soles of their own shoes,” she says laughing. “It doesn’t matter the season or the terrain, they’re going to be out running.”

Running in the spring may be warmer, but winter has another advantage.

Dr. Alec Lindsay, a general practitioner with a passion for skiing, says that the winter is the best season to lose fat. The metabolization of brown fat is increased with cold exposure, speeding weight loss. This increase of the metabolic rate caused by exercising in the winter endures long after exercise.

“Those who suffer from SAD syndrome benefit from outdoor exercise in winter. Even on gloomy, overcast winter days, there is enough ambient light to stimulate the pineal and make us feel better,” Lindsay explains.

Bowen suggests that people who run consistently use the winter to maintain their fitness, rather than improve it. He says it is hard to get intense runs that develop speed during the winter, due to the weather and inconsistent conditions, making the spring the best time to knock down your times.