Arctic winter running – on shoes (219K to go)

Winter running in Nuuk, Greenland

Winter running in Nuuk, Greenland

Now before I get to the actual shoes that I prefer and a few alternatives I highly recommend, then I want to add a few words about how I approach my choice of shoes. reading my previous post may shed some additional light on the subject.

Winter where I live dictates snow, ice and very little actual pavement available, it also dictates very cold temeperatures. Even been running up a steep icy hill, run it without spikes and it will teach you a lot about efficient running form. ever run through 20cm during your entire run, well you quads will come home burning in a very different way.

What I try to say is that I do not run winter like summer, but see it a bit like a different sport.

My favourite trio - seeya, spyridon and el-x

My favourite trio – seeya, spyridon and el-x

The sharp reader will notice it is exactly the same shoes I run during summer and therein lies the truth for me. Winter running does not require a special kind of footwear in general.

The el-x is my go to winter boot for casual wear, I wear it down to -25C without socks, when I go shopping, to from work, when going for a walk, had it not been for the tight upper and the slightly narrow sole profile I would be running them too. The sole itself is near perfect, very grippy on all surfaces and still soft, flexible and light.

The seeya is an excellent running shoe for anything from road to light trail work, true for summer and winter alike. it is not the most grippy, but since I am running for the experience and use the slightly poorer traction to optimise my technique it is a great shoe even in slippery conditions.

The Spyridon is the shoe for when the going gets tough. hard technical trails in summer, nordic skiing trails and snowmobile trails during winter. it is a shoe that will take anything you throw at it smiling. it has the advantage that it is roomy enough to take a thin smartwool toesock, thus making it good for as cold as you would want to run. add a inov8 debris gaiter and it will be good well into knee deep snow.

Now I do not say that the approach some take with big sturdy, spiked, thermo lined, goretex protected shoes is wrong. I used to like it a few years ago, as it essentially would make me plough through winter as if it did not exist. truth is that I have just come to value feeling my environment while running and that comes at the price of speed during winter.

“But are you not freezing wearing so thin shoes during winter?” is a very common question and the reply is simple one. I have found that by nearly not wearing shoes the feet start heating from within. barefoot is probably on the frostbite risky side of things, but if it was not for the crushed rock the spray all over the place to buy people some traction on ice and snow I would likely be experimenting more with this barefoot thing during winter too ๐Ÿ™‚

If I were to run a closed toebox shoe during winter, then I would likely look towards vivobarefoot evo lite, or breatho trail, perhaps even the merrell trailglove 2 as it has a wonderful fit, it is however not exactly a durable shoe and Merrell so far has decided not to respond to my emails on the subject.

If you are in the need of a little foam or more of a real shoe minimalist thing, then the Sketchers gobionic trail is an excellent shoe, with a very very nice sole design and good traction on all surfaces. I own a pair and I really like both the fit and the feel of them, even if they are too padded for my taste.

So that concludes the shoe side of things, now get out there and run ๐Ÿ™‚

Arctic off trail – why I love to run (438K to go):

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Why I love to run

It really is that simple, the picture above really spells out why I love to run and why off trail running in Greenland is an experience everybody trail (or road) runner should allow themselves at least once.

But I am getting a head of myself here, first run after my vacation in the Netherlands was actually a gorgeous 12K single trail on the gypsy trails just outside Copenhagen, arranged by a local runner and a great introduction to a very nice trail area hidden in plain sight ๐Ÿ™‚

It was also the first test run of the Merrell trail glove 2, but I will get back to the shoe towards the end of this post.

Trail? what trail?

Trail? what trail?

The 18K off trail:

Pretty much the minute ย I arrived back home in Nuuk snow started poring down and that in the city it self. Why on this Saturday in mid September we woke up to a landscape covered in bright white snow, and with more falling from the thick dark clouds.

I checked the weather and it promised better conditions around noon, a quick text exchange with another local off trail runner sealed a deal about a run to the lowest of the local peaks at 12.

Going up - serpentine  style

Going up – serpentine style

We set out on the first relatively flat and not too technical 5K to where the mountain really start to rise. conditions are normally easy off trail, but when everything is covered in anywhere from 10-20 cm of snow it is a whole different ballgame. you only see snow and have no clue whether it is pebbles, bigger rocks, a hole or a rock face that can be plain contoured or sloping below, Even better it is often a combination of it all.

From here we started uphill and the off trail grew from not too technical to 5K rather technical and quite strenuous uphill off trail.

Running straight lines were out of the question thus we laid a serpentine route creating a grade where we could keep a running like pace.

Mr J and dog leading the way

Mr J and dog leading the way

 

As we continued up the snow got deeper, but also more varied in depth as we ran into regular snow covered boulder fields. Requiring our full attention not to twist an ankle or a knee.

As we continued up, snow continued to get deeper in general, but also more varied in depth from one step to the next. one step might be knee deep, but the next only 10 cm or force you in to the hip. challenging and interest and we were both very grateful to reach the top and an energy gel break.

From here followed a VERY interesting 3K downhill run. plenty of slides and a great deal of care to be taken as we made our way down steep sections with loose rock covered in snow of unknown depth.

we were not moving our fastest here, ย but it was quite taxing on both breath and thighs.

From here followed the 5K of relatively easy technical off trail home and it was great to be able to remove the trail gaiters and untie the shoes.

Overall it had been around 2,5 hours (breaks included) of the kind of running that is precisely why I love Greenland, rough, desolate, remote and challenging like hell, but above all fun ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

Off trail 10K and first peak (858K to go):

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Spring has caught Nuuk and most of the Greenlandic west coast a few month early and the snowboarder in me hates it, then the barefoot runner in me loves it ๐Ÿ™‚

Today was another perfect day from the morning, a tough core and shoulder workout, followed by work and the strapping into my VFF Spyridons for the first real off trail test on rock in stead of snow.

The course for the roun would be a mix of roughly 5K mountain, with plenty of bare rock, pebbled sections, sections with jagged outcroppings of rock and plenty of snow patches in between and be rather steep to boot.

My run started uphill from the first step and the next 2,5 steep uphill kilometres threatened to kill me and my feet from quite early on. On road and the terrain I have been running so far, my feet has been taking the transition to a totally soft shoe with no padding very well. but running steep rock inclines in a soft five finger shoe is putting quite a lot of strain on both mid foot muscles, calves and the achilles tendon. this part of the run definitely had several sections of technical running that my barefoot running skills are not quite up for yet. But that said I loved every step of it ๐Ÿ™‚

Did the obligatory stop at the peak, calming myself, taking in the view and letting my feet dry. Felt amazing to sit barefooted up there and enjoy the view.

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From the peak I was looking forward to the perhaps funniest part of the run, the downhill run on what was left of the alpine slopes, still covered in thick slushy snow.

That part of my run was pure fun, took a lot of focus, balance and coordination to stay upright at some of the steeper sections, but staying true to good running/sliding style made for a fast and fun section ๐Ÿ™‚

Met several Nordic skiers on this section on the route, even friends, all preparing for either the Greenlandic Nationals or the Arctic Circle Race.

Got a few weird looks and exchanged a few friendly words, they were all going uphill after all and on Nordic skies, I am not sure I would have survived that.

From her it was a 5K paved section home.

Mostly it was a 5K ย long survival run, my feet were hammered from the off trail part and i had very little energy to do anything than focus on running, cadence ย and other things seemed about right, but I could tell on the way home that this run would fall in the TMTS category and now as i am typing this I am confident that I will pay for this over in the coming days.

That said I still think it was worth it and I would be tempted to do ย it again ๐Ÿ™‚

The spyridons we again an excellent off trail choice. excellent grip on all surfaces and I can now vouch for this mesh feature that take the brunt of the impact from rock cropping and stones/pebbles, It works a treat.

It survived the road section too and very well for a trail shoes, but coming form no shoes or a seeya it is a bit of dull experience on roads.

A parting picture for you all showing a little more of the mixed terrain.

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