Doing sports in the arctic

About the author of this post: My name is Eetu, I’m a Finnish guy who loves being outdoors, winter and doing sports. What brings me to this topic? The answer is quite obvious as I do happen to love all those three things which combined equals doing sports in the arctic environment. I grew up in Rovaniemi, which could be labeled as the capitol of Finnish Lapland. The winters in here are quite harsh, even going all the way down to – 40 celcius degrees sometimes. Then again, sometimes we have rain, and sunshine (yes, the sun does shine in here.)

When I started to run and exercise in the Arctic and in the cold winter time, the first times were a complete disaster. I wasn’t prepared well and got sweaty in a few minutes. Then came the cold and frozen fingertips. That’s a one thing you really need to avoid when doing sports in minus degrees. The sweat will cool down your body too much and you use a lot more of your energy reserves to keep warm. Also you should ensure that if you’re doing less work with your upper body, you keep your hands and fingers warm. That’s an order. With good gloves preferably leather or wool gloves as they don’t get too warm to start sweating.

Ranging from merino wool undies to soft shell jacket.

My equipment for running in – 25 below

Equip yourself with a good outer layer: beanie, sports hoodie, some merino wool pants and a pair of very good running shoes.  Now for the inner layer:  an underline shirt and long johns (merino wool), a pair of hiking socks or preferably a pair of long running socks. Then put Rambo theme playing from your phone. Get out to the cold winter air and let it flow through your lungs. Start running with a slow pace. As you run, the air burns your lungs at first, but you will survive, the worst is over. The sensation after a good start is euphoric!

Warming up is quite important as it takes a bit more time to do than in a gym or indoors.

Remember to warm up your legs and feet especially as they do the most of the work. I usually do some squats and leaps to get my blood pumping. It’s also good to do some push-ups or pull-ups to keep warm if possible.

Winter time gym

Winter time gym

I have been doing sports in the winter time for about 3 years now, and themore I do it, the more natural it feels to me. It’s like being back to the roots, to the Ice Age. The people back then didn’t have these high-tech equipment or comfort of the gym, all they had was the mindset and the goal. What we have now, is already much more than they did, and it sure makes exercising easier.

My record for going out on a run is at -40 degrees and it was very nice.

Just add up one more layer, except for socks. You can switch them for a thicker pair but don’t have two pairs at the time, unless they’re made completely out of wool. If you have two pair of sucks and you’re running, the socks will start to grind on your ankles. The running is a bit different at such cold temperatures, you breath more heavily and your eyes might get frozen together, but it’s all about the excitement right?

Attending extreme competitions during winter

The picture below is from a year ago, but still it’s a great picture. We took part in a large competition, called Tough Viking and it holds an exhausting setting, 5 kilometers long, included 12 different obstacles like log carrying in deep snow and running up and down the fell Levi which is about 500 meters high. The finishing point was diving into a pool of icy water. That was a bit extreme to me too, but I loved every second of it.

Tough viking competition in Levi

we participated in a Tough Viking competition Levi, in 2015. @ ToughViking

In the end, if you really want to test yourself a little bit, go for a run outside when it’s below zero degrees. You’ll get a whole new experience by running and exercising in the arctic. Just keep yourself safe, and remember to warm up and some warm water/energy source with you just in case. Ok, that’s it. Take care of yourselves when going out for a run in the Arctic. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @wolfeetu

Author: Lapland Safaris

This is the blog of Lapland Safaris, which is a company specialized in all sort of activities in Finnish Lapland both in winter and in summertime. In winter we enjoy snowmobiling, husky and reindeer-sledge rides, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing among other things. During the summer we cruise on river boats, visit the reindeer and husky farms, and hike in the forests. Do you have questions? Ask us anything in the comments of this post. We will be happy to help you!

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