Living in Poland: Summer is ending..

It is already the second half of September, the summer is coming to an end. The days are getting shorter and colder. Of course, we will have still some nice sunny days this month and hopefully early next month. But you can feel autumn crawling in. How will autumn/winter affect my training?

The first question is: How can autumn/winter affect running training?
While in the Netherlands, Germany, UK, and USA you might be able to run outside during the autumn and winter period even though it might be a bit cold this is unfortunately not the case in Krakow.

Krakow is located in a valley between mountains and over the years people have not been heating their houses in the most environmental and healthy friendly ways. If you are lucky they are just using coal, but in most cases they just use plastic and sometimes even garbage waste. Which causes a lot of air pollution. In the summer this is not a problem because people are not heating their houses, but in the winter season, it is starting again. In Krakow, there is a new law that supports clean heating and most apartment buildings have central heating but the villages and smaller cities around Krakow can still burn plastic and garbage for heating purposes.
The smoke of the burned goods will stay in the Valley unless there is enough wind that will blow it out and the health quality deteriorates until then. On days when it is a bit windy, you can go outside, but preferably not for too long. On other days they advise you not to go outside if it is not necessary.

You can buy some Smog masks which should clarify a part of the air, but I do not believe they can protect you for a long period of time due to the high values. And I cannot imagine running with a mask on, it is a challenge, breathing is harder and I think you can get condense in the mask.

The last two years when the Smog-season started I ended up with a throat inflammation, just from walking outside to get to work. With running the breathing becomes faster, more irritation and thus probably the worst idea ever for me to do. I am not looking forward to the winter season, I do not mind the cold, the sitting at home with a blanket and a tea or hot chocolate. I just don’t like the Smog.

On some days when you wake up, you might think it is just fog, but it is just Smog. Sometimes even so dense that you cannot see for more than 50-100meters. These are really the bad days. Luckily, for the Krakowian people, there are different applications and boards in the city, which can tell you how bad it actually is. I am using one of them and I use it from time to time. Not to determine if I can go running, but if it would be smart to walk over to the gym in the winter. Or if we can head outside to visit a museum. For us, the winter season is the time that we visit museums purely because we cannot really do any outdoor activities.

Bur training in the winter? This is mostly treadmill work and lifting some weight either in the gym or at home. This year, I have also some runs planned during the winter season – I just added some runs again last week. But in that case, I choose the shortest distance and check the location. Most of the runs will be a bit outside of Krakow in a forest and I will hope the smog will be less there. Let’s hope I will not get sick this year from the Smog and I can do a lot of happy running indoors and outdoors. Because I have so many ideas when it comes to running for 2019! And I cannot keep still.

How do you train during the winters? Are you affected by air pollution in your city during winter time? And how would you train in this case?


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