Noel Paine is a writer with a 35-year passion for running who now also racewalks (and owns an Ontario race walking record!).
He is an advocate for healthy, active living and mental health and believes that you need the former in order to maintain the latter.
The Ottawa resident shared in our email interview his winter tips for staying active. Read on for our Q&A…
Q: As we settle into the dog days of winter up here in the True North Strong and Free, running is not always possible, so what are some of the best ways for staying active?
A: The best way to stay active during cold Canadian winters is to be prepared to keep yourself motivated and to have (a plan) to defeat excuses.
For example, get a treadmill or join a nearby gym (has to be easy to get to or or on your commute) for crazy cold days and to have super warm gear, reflective attire, ice spikes to keep you on your feet when icy and find a friend to help get you out when its cold and dark!
Another great option for mixing things up is to get a pair of running snowshoes!
Dion snowshoes are some of the best and you almost forget you have snowshoes on! Strap the snowshoes over your running shoes and go!
Q: What training advice would you give to the beginner trying to get ready for a spring event?
A: Set your spring goal but for the early part of the year just focus on building a base of fitness. Worry less about time, pace etc. and concentrate on just getting out each day.
As you get fitter, as you get closer to the part of your training plan where you may need to focus on pace, intervals and work, and when it’s warmer you can get more intense. Early winter can be tough in Canada. Pat yourself on the back for just getting out.
Q: How important is rest and recovery to your overall training regime? Is taking a day off detrimental to reaching your goal?
A: Like in a race, you have to be flexible and adapt. You also have to be tough. Commit to your plan but be flexible. Try to get out for a run, but if you cannot, run in a spot, hit the treadmill, the spin bike, elliptical, get a walk in. Do something.
Getting something in will make you feel better. Sometimes when you are tired, you may just need to rest. Work is good, but without recovery and rest your body cannot get stronger.
To keep things fun and to stay motivated look for a training partner or a local club. Doing things together can make the training load a lot lighter!
Also – have fun! It’s the winter, try some winter sports to break things up. Skate, cross-country ski, snowshoe or go sledding to mix things up.
Winter running can be tough, but it can also make you feel tougher and on race day you will be mentally stronger to handle whatever the day throws your way.
Also for most Canadian runners there are a few races until springtime; let the snow and ice slow you down a bit and focus on endurance strength until things warm up!
Q: What is your favorite winter dish for fuel before and after a workout?
A: A favourite winter dish that’s great for the tummy and training? I have two! A warm bowl of chili or homemade stew!
For the chilli I like extra lean ground beef (or vegan option), beans (type your choice) (I like brown), red pepper, diced tomatoes, chopped green onion, pineapple, a bit of molasses and spice to your taste! Hearty brown bread on the side and sour cream and cheese on top of the chili! Protein punch for post workout!
Another warm winter option is homemade stew. Beef or tofu and whatever leftovers and veggies etc. you have kicking around.
Have fun! For me it’s usually chopped up beef rolled in flour and cooked up with onions, then add water and peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beets, soup mix, beef stock and flavor as you like with what you have.
Let it sit and simmer for a few hours; Toasty and hearty after being outside, and filling!
About Steve Erickson