Cold Weather Running or how to stay off the treadmill despite the winter

Hey, remember when this was a running blog?  Me neither.

Moving on, despite my inability to run this winter, I ran outside all through last winter despite sub-zero temperatures, ice storms, and 16 days of snow in a row.  I have new coworkers who just moved here from Miami and we were discussing winter running, so I’ve decided to share with you what I told them.  Also, even I’m a little bored of reading about my pregnancy.

1.  Know your limits.  I can tell you what I did, but you have to be smart enough to know if you should be running outside.  For some people, anything below freezing is too cold.  For me, anything with a severe frostbite warning is too cold.

2.  Dress in moisture wicking layers.  The first half mile was always by far the hardest for me.  I was SO cold, but I once I warmed up I hated having all that clothing on.  The solution was layers.  I could stuff gloves in my pockets, unzip various layers, or even tie a coat around my waist.  I tended to wear a light long sleeve tech shirt, an UnderArmour thermal hoodie and then a light coat on top if I needed it.  I actually did also invest in a pair of tech long johns to wear under thermal tights if it was under 20 degrees.  And the reason I invested in tech stuff is because you do not want cold nasty sweat against your skin.  It will freeze and make you cold and miserable.  Also, speaking of thermal tights, they are worth the money.  Personally, I love Moving Comfort tights and Nike thermals when it gets really cold, but everyone is different.

3.  Discover YakTrax.  I’m sure these aren’t the only product that does this, but it’s the only one I’ve heard of.  You slip them on to the bottom of your running shoes and have instant tread.  The one caution with YakTrax is I found them very uncomfortable if I hit a patch of regular concrete, but they were a life saver in the mega ice storm.  I actually fell during the storm, but that was walkin around in boots.  I never fell running on snow and ice all last year and I’m pretty sure I can thank the YakTrax.

4.  Gloves.  My fingers always felt like the weakest link.  They got cold really easily, so gloves were really necessary for me to be happy.  You can even get gloves with special thumb pads to help you manipulate your touch screen phone of mp3 player.  Along with this, cover your fool ears so you don’t get frostbite.

5.  Get warm tech socks.  Personally, I own hunting socks (hunting gear is the warmest stuff ever) back from when I had to be at equestrian team lessons in freezing weather.  The problem is they are huge (men’s sizes only) and made of weird material.  I decided I was better off investing in really warm tech socks so I’d stop making my feet bleed.  I also got the crew length socks because it gave me more warmth on my legs.

6.  Don’t play chicken with cars.  Word on the street is you shouldn’t do this anyways, but it’s really dangerous in the winter because people are sliding everywhere and can’t stop as well.

7.  Stop and walk if it’s really slick.  There’s a bridge on my favorite running trail that freezes horribly.  I heard tell that someone had to have dental work after slipping on it in the spring.  Needless to say, I will always walk that bridge if it’s wet or icy.  Same goes for obvious ice patches or anything that looks unstable.

8.  The hardest part is getting out of bed and getting dressed.  When it’s cold it’s so much harder to drag yourself out from under warm blankets.  I often slept in running clothes so I didn’t have to be naked and freezing.  I know that’s weird, but it got me out of bed.

9.  If your throat is burning, drink water.  Cold air is really dry and can dry out the soft tissue in your throat and mouth.  And being properly hydrated helps everything anyways.  You can also try a gaiter (looks like a ski mask) to keep the air around your mouth and nose warmer.  Personally I own one, but it makes me feel all suffocatey.

10.  Have fun!  Duh.  But really, a moonlit morning/evening run in the snow is so peaceful and gorgeous.  Just stay in relatively well lit areas and avoid traffic.

What are your cold weather tips?  Any item of clothing I should tell my new friends to invest in?  Are you going to stay outside for your runs this winter or move inside to the old dreadmill?

And speaking of hydration, there’s still a little time to enter my Bobble filtered water bottle giveaway!