Saturday, 23 January 2016

River Swims

Over the last few weeks I have managed to get two cold water swims in a local river.  In the first I was out for a shirtless run in the evening with two of my mates and as the run finished along a stretch of a large UK river that runs a few miles from my house I said I wanted to go for a swim. 

Although I had said this before to my two friends they said that I was always saying that and not doing anything about it but talk.  Well, that was enough to spur me on so I stopped at a convenient point, stripped off completely and waded into the water.   I didn't stay in the water for too long but I think I have broken the ice with them so when I headed out on another run with them a few days ago when we got to the river they asked if I was going to swim again.  I said "yes, of course".   

So when we got to a place not far from the end we stopped and I stripped off completely again and this time stayed in the water for a bit longer this time.  No comment from them this time, they just stayed and watched, but were not tempted to get in themselves.

I have no idea what the temperature of the water was but I do know that the air temperature was around -2C.  Once I got out and started running again in just shorts and trainers I warmed up quickly.

I think I need to go out for more runs and swims in the dark evenings as there are less people around, less likely to be seen (apart from by my mates). 

Monday, 4 January 2016

Cold water showers

One of the hardest things for me to do is to get directly into a cold water shower directly from my bed in the morning, especially the first 30 seconds or so.  This winter I have tried a new technique which seems to work for me and is a lot less harsh and a shock to the system.

I now start off with a reasonable temperature from the showerhead get all soaped up and then I turn the temperature dial down a notch.  I have numbers on the shower temp selector that go from 1 to 8.  However you can override the control and go full cold or full hot.

Every 30 seconds or so I turn the dial down a notch till I hit  the number 1 and then after another 30 seconds or so I just turn it to full cold and stay there under the shower rose for a few minutes.  I find that when I get out the shower after using this method I warm up pretty quick  - well faster than if I start full cold and then turn the heat up a little to take the chill off before getting out. 

If you decide to try this, let me know how you get on in the comments section.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Where is winter?

According to reports in the newspaper ( ) we are having a very warm December and almost reached the hottest December day since records began.  Not a very good start to becoming acclimatised again to the cold.  We have had only one morning in my part of the UK where the temperature fell below 0C overnight this year.

I certainly can't remember a December so warm in the past 10 years.

What has been happening in your part of the world?  Are you also seeing higher winter temperatures than normal? 

Let me know by posting a comment. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

New Posts for Winter season 2015/2016

Hi there.

I know that there are a few of you that used to read this blog regularly.  I also had not realised that it has been nearly two years since I last put a post on here,  I am hoping to change that this winter season and to post a little more regularly.  Temperatures in the UK have not dropped too much yet (days are still generally above 10C) but there is a definite chill in the air in the mornings now.

As far as what I have been doing in the interim not too much really.  I still do a lot of shirtless running in all weathers and temperatures here in the UK.  I have run several 10km and half marathon distance races over the past 2 years (all shirtless) - often being the only runner that will be shirtless at the start of the race.  I even seem to be getting a reputation of running races shirtless as one of my friends heard a conversation between two other runners recently where the one commented to the other about my shirtless state and the other one replied that they had seen me at other races and that I always run that way! 

Not been doing too much cold water swimming as there is not really anywhere around me that is convenient for doing that.  However, I am planning to run a few obstacle races over the winter which will involve going through water so I may need to do some preparation for those. 

One time when I was away in January of this year at a coastal town I did an early morning shirtless 10km run along the promenade.  There was frost on the ground and some icy patches where the water had frozen underfoot.  When I got close to the hotel there were a few young guys approaching me and they passed some comment to me about the cold.  I said it was not that bad and I was heading off to the sea now for swim.  I don't think they believed that I would actually go in the water as they stopped and watched as I went down to the seashore and stripped off to a very skimpy rio/thong bathing suit and then ran into the calm water for a swim.  The water temperature was around 7C so not that cold really.  After about 5 minutes I got out, put my shorts back on and then walked back that last 500m barefoot to the hotel for a session in the heated pool and the steam room.  I wish that I had challenged or dared the young guys to go swimming with me as I think that maybe one of them may have taken up the challenge.  Maybe next time. 

Let me know if you would accept such a challenge. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Starting up the Blog for the 2013/2104 winter season

Hi one and all

Thought it was about time to revisit this blog and get some new page views from those that are following this. 

With the winter season starting up  and the temperatures starting to dip here in the UK I already started my cold shower routine in the mornings again.  Some days it's a full shower in cold water others a few minutes to start off.  I can already tell the difference in temperature from just a few weeks ago to now.

My running is still going strong and I intend to do all my running this winter shirtles just as I did last year too. 

This year I have promised myself to get out and do some proper winter swimming in rivers or lakes.  I also promise to take some pictures this year to liven the blog up a bit.  Keep watching this space. 

Also if there are things that you want me to do or to write about in particular just drop me a comment. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Another Snow & Ice Bath

We had some unexpected snow overnight Sunday which put sufficient of the white stuff on the ground to enable me do the snow bath thing again. As a warm-up I did a short 7k shirtless run first thing in the morning in quite slippery conditions. 

Temperature on the run was hovering around freezing point as I set out and did not move from that in the 50 minutes or so it took to run.  I stopped a couple of times to look at the snow laden trees as the sun broke through at dawn.  On the way back to home I made a detour to a clearing in the woods that I know would have a good depth of snow and stripped off to have a naked roll around in it.  Although cold on the skin the feeling of freshly fallen snow is quite difficult to describe.  Its like being caressed by dry water or soft foam. 

After my run I warmed up with a coffee and then set about filling the bath with 5 buckets full of snow and running cold water over it.  Once the bath was full I dispersed the ice, took the temp of the water (0C) and Set the timer for 10 minutes and got in.  I started to shiver a little at the 7 minute mark but that soon passed and before I knew it the timer was going off for me to get out. 

My hands and feet were very stiff as I was drying myself off but these seem to be recovering more quickly the more times I do this.  After drying and dressing warmly I made myself a cup of coffee and warmed up slowly while shivering quite a bit on the warm-up cycle for the next 30 minutes or so.  The shivering also didnt seem to last that long this time.  So maybe getting used to this cold water immersion really does help speed up your metabolism.  

Comments welcomed!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Highgate Men's Pond - Hampstead Heath

I had read a lot about Highgate Men's Pond at Hamsptead Heath and the fact that it is open year round but I have never had the opportunity to visit it until an unexpected business trip came up to London this week and I realised I would have the time to fit a short visit in to have a winter swim there. 

The approach and changing facilities at the pond are very communal and have a "retro" 1950's feel about them.  Although I took my camera I forgot about it until after I left so I am afraid you will have to look for pics on the net. There is a video here: which gives you a fairly good impression of the place.

I got there around 10h00 and there were 2 other older guys there changing at the same time as me.   I spoke to the lifeguards (2 on duty the day I was there) just to let them know it was my first time as I went to swim.  The water was a cool 4C and I managed to stay in for around 6 minutes but coud have done quite a lot longer.  The water is quite deep so I had no opportuity to stand so was swimming the entire time.  There is a cordoned off swimming area with ropes for the winter (to limit the distance the lifeguards have to swim to rescue you?) but this is large enough to get a good distance swim in.  The other swimmers were impressed that I stayed in the water longer than they did (and they tell me they swim almost every day)!

The water was of good quality and well worth a second visit soon while the water is still cold.  If you need any pointers or more info write me a comment. 

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The snow has gone

Having the Snow around for a while did give me opportunities to explore some of my cold limits and establish a new cold/duration personal best.  This week in the UK the weather has been considerably warmer temperature wise but with more rain and wind.

Now the snow has gone, that doesn't mean that the fun is over.  I have been out running shirtles on 3 occasions since last Friday with this morning's run proving the coldest of the week so far.  I found small stream close to where I am this week that offers some opportunties for wallowing in shallow cold water. So I managed to get 2 x 2-minute dips in during the return leg of the run. I did not really feel cold during the run but I did feel that my muscles were not as flexible and I think I ran the last  leg a lot slower than I normally would have.  If I get the chance to do the same run early in the day tomorrow I will have to do the 2 minute dips on the outward run as well as the return leg to see how that affects me. 

After having breakfast upon getting home I then ran a cold bath (water out of the tap 6C) and managed to stay in that for 20 minutes before getting out.  Sure I was cold and shivered for a while afterwards but not that bad.  I think I am getting used to this. 

I think I am also getting used to the shvering part, what I am not getting used to is the fact that my fingers and toes become stiff and very cold and painful (and white until the circulation returns to them). 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Ice Bath Record

The Snow is still lingering in the garden - sufficient to get enough of it to get 6 or 7 bucketsful to fill a bath and top it up with cold water.  The water out of the cold tap is at +8.5C but when combined with the snow the water drops to 0C and makes the perfect Ice Bath. (The thermometer in the pictures under-reads by 0.5C).

Having done this yesterday with no  ill-effects I thought I would do the same again today but with more snow and extend the time I was in the water for.  I set a timer on the edge of the bath for 10 minutes and plunged in.

Today was not as daunting as yesterday.  I managed to do the whole 10 minutes with no problems and think I recovered better than yesterday too.  I had my hands in the water the entire time and although they were stiff and tingling they seemed not to be as cold afterwards.   Sure, my skin was numb and quite red at the finish but that also feels good as does the shivering during the rewarming period.   I think I like the really cold water better than +9C  or above!

There is a long (but boring) video of the whole 10 minutes just to prove that it is possible on my Youtube channel (  You can see the countdown timer in the top right which I set after I got in and which runs the whole way through.

I would appreciate any comments you may have. 

Thursday, 24 January 2013


I guess many of you know we have had a really cold week here in the UK with much snow and low overnight temperatures.  I went out for a shirtless run on Wednesday morning with snow all over the paths and a bit slippery underfoot (Air temp -2C).  It was a great, cold, 8.8km run.  There is nothing like running in the snow.  I was photographed on at least 2 occasions by passers-by who obviously thought I was crazy and also had a few motorists hoot their appreciation! 

Today, however, I was too lazy to get up for a run and after some reviewing of my Youtube channels and searching for new content I hit on the idea of using some of the accumulated snow outside to create my own ice bath.   So armed with a bucket and large spade I set about collecting and placing a large amount of snow into the bath and filling it up with cold water.  By the time the bath was full there was still snow floating and not melting on the top so I have to assume that temperature was at freezing or thereabouts. 

I must admit that as this was the coldest water that I have ever gotten into I was a little apprehensive.  I planned only to spend 3 minutes in the water.   On getting in it did seem to be very cold but the feeling was not as bad as i had expected it to be.  I was not even really that much out of breath when I got in.  I must be acclimatised to this by now I guess. 

It was really wierd seeind and feeling the slushy snow floating in the bath around me and when I lay back I pushed a slushy cushion of ice to the back of my neck as a makeshift pillow.  The 3 minutes slipped past so quickly that there seemed no point in stopping there.  At 5 minutes I put my head into the water until it became painful - I was surprised to see that more than 1 minute had passed by the time I sat up again. 

My skin was red when I got out (as expected) but I did not shiver at all in the water, only when I had dried off and started to warm up.  That was strange.  My toes and fingers were numb, but that was to be expected.  The rest of me was fine.  Totally invigorating!  Roll on the next time. 

I can report a new record for temperature and time now for me:
  • Duration:  7 minutes
  • Temperature:  0C (32F)
What are you going to do with the next snowfall?  Tell me or send me a comment on the above.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Scotland Run/Swim

I spent most of this past week up in Scotland near Stirling.  While I was there I met up for a run and a swim with an online buddy (let's call him Joe) who is a very keen cold weather runner and swimmer.  We had been discussing what we were going to do and where we were to run by e-mail in the days beforehand. We also decided that as the place would likely be deserted that we would run only in speedo swimwear (he is a barefoot runner - I ran in my Nike running shoes). 

He met me at my hotel and then I drove us out to Glen Finglas reservoir near Callander for a late afternoon start.  On the way the temperature kept dropping and was close to freezing by the time we reached the small car park that was to be our starting point.  Increasing amounts of snow also lay on the ground the closer we got to our destination.  After parking the car we stripped off to our Speedos and got ready to run.

The first part of the trail is actually a steep and winding tarmac road which then turns to gravel after about 1.5km.  After the initual climb the road winds its way down to the head of the lake away from the reservoir wall.  The road was covered in snow and quite icy in parts so hampered our speed as we needed to avoid falling. 

This is a view of the lake from one of the higher points in which you can see the gravel trail path in the foreground:

After about 35 minutes we were close to the lakeside near the far end of the picture and decided to take a short swim before heading back.  Joe's watch showed a water temp of around 4C once we got in the water. This is the coldest water I have swum in.   We swam and stood in the water for around 5 minutes before getting out and heading back the same way we came in retracing our path along the trail.  The run was close to 9km in total. 

It was definitely colder on the way back (maybe I was just colder) and because I kept my shoes on when I swam (as I knew that if i took them off I would nevere be able to re-tie the laces with my cold hands) my feet became colder and my laces froze into position on the way back.  My hands were painful too as I did not wear gloves the whole run.  It took a while to thaw out in the car but by the time we reached the hotel I felt quite normal but elated and refreshed with "tingling" skin. 

Not the coldest run air temperature wise that I have ever done but with the swim at the far point of the run it does not leave you with many options to warm your body up on the return leg except to run faster. 

Regrettably I was not able to get any more runs or swims in with Joe this time around. However, there is snow on the ground in the South of the UK today so I may get a good snow run in tomorrow morning. And there is always a next time for a trip to Scotland.

One interesting incident happened on the run: That was that we were passed by what may have been a ranger or local farmer in his Land Rover on the gravel track.  Initially he waved at us as he went past but after  a few minutes he returned and asked us if this was a "dare" or what? And if we were "OK"?  We assured him that we were fine and that we were used to doing this type of crazy thing.  With that he turned around and we never saw im again.  I bet he had a few conversations about  that encounter in the local pub or with his wife that evening!  

Sunday, 13 January 2013

I took another cold bath Thursday.  Similar sort of reaction as before, except this time I managed to keep my head covered with  water (with nose and mouth out so I could breathe) for around 4 minutes of the 20 that I was in the water.  

I had gone out for a shirtless run in +2C temps just before that so was cool from the run so found that it took me a lot longer to warm up than the previous day.  I did not find it unpleasant though.  Maybe I am just getiing used to the feeling now. 

Friday I had a 5 minute cold shower instead as time was limited. 

This week I am headed to Scotland to meet up with an acquaintance that is much more experienced than I am with dealing with the cold.  We have agreed to run and swim together on at least one or 2 occasions whilst I am there.  Snow and colder weather (down to -5C) is forecast so hope that there will still be some snow on the ground when we run (probably in Speedos or thong swimwear). 

Keep watching this space.  I have my camera packed too so maybe you will get a photo or 2 as well in the coming days.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

On Monday I could not sleep so went out for a run at around 05h30 in the dark on one of my normal runs using a head-torch.  It's quite a different way to run as the limited light means you need to tread a little more carefully.  As I had more time than normal for a run I decided to run to the little stream where I knew I could get a cold water dip in.  And as it was so dark once I got to the woods I decided to strip off my shorts to get maximum cold exposure and got around 10k of the 14 k run in that state.  It was not that cold (maybe 5C) but it was a little misty.

Once at the stream I took the plunge and spent around 5 minutes in the water and then carried on with my run.  I dont know what the temperature of the stream was but it did not feel much colder than the air and my body got used to the temperature quite quickly.

I warmed up a bit on the run home and then took a cold shower to wash the mud off me.  I did not shiver much on the run, swim or shower but as I was warming up afterwards I did shiver quite a lot.

I am away from home for a few days now and have been pursuing some more cold weather and cold water activities that have been interesting.  I am further north in the UK than my home town and the water  out of the tap is definitely much colder.  So today I also took a long cold bath after I woke up.

I managed around 20 minutes.  The shivering started at around 8 minutes and lasted quite a while.  I managed to keep my head under the water for a few minutes too which is an improvement over past times I have tried that.  I noticed that towards the end my heart rate had slowed a bit but did not have chance to see how much slower it was.

I shivered quite a lot afterwards while warming up but my hands and feet were OK and seemed to recover mobility quite quickly. 

The weather is due to get colder tonight so I may try and get out for a run in the morning in below freezing temps around where I am staying.  I will let you know the outcome. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Well. Christmas and New Year have come and gone and I dont have a lot to report here.  December in the UK was wet but not that cold. I had many shirtless runs and the occasional cold shower but nothing worthy of a blog entry.

Today, however I did something I have not done for a while. I ran a cold bath and set the timer for 11 minutes (it was supposed to be 10 mins but I went over and couldnt be bothered to reset it). I dont know what temp the water was but I guess around 8C or 9C. I started the timer as I got in and then lay down to enjoy it. No cold shock, rapid breathing on getting in so I guess I am still conditioned!

Taking a bath or a swim is much different from a cold shower. The water is all encompassing and envelops the body in a cloak of cold.

I got to about 8 minutes before some shivering set in but that soon passed and at around the 10 minute mark I decided to put my head completely under the water for the last minute leaving only my nose and mouth out. In the past I have not been able to keep my head under the water but this time I managed to do it.

After the first 11 minutes were over I still felt OK so I styed in the water and set the timer going again with a resolve to stay the full 11 minutes (which I did). The shivering increased over this second session to the point I was shivering quite uncontrollably at one stage. This was not uncomfortable, and in some ways it was quite exciting and enjoyable as I have not experience this for quite a long time. As with the first time, for the last minute I kept my head under the water.

As I write this I am in warming up and having the occassional shivering session. One of my fingers is still white from the cold with little circulation but other than that I feel good and quite invigorated.

I will probably do this a few more times this coming week as I am off to see a fellow runner and cold water swimer in Scotland the week of 14 January. I hope to report back on at least 1 or 2 run/swim combinations while I am there. He has promised to take me to 2 of the local lochs for a swim in them. They should be at around the 5C mark by now so it will be interesting, especially as we plan to run to and from them in just our speedo swim suits.

 For the record my weight seems to be staying pretty constant at around 66Kg.