This morning, as I glanced through tired eyes at the leaves bouncing around on the trees in my backyard, I shook my head. I knew there was no way I’d make it outside for a run. Too cold. Too windy. Too dark. The only thing I wanted to do was crawl back under the warm covers and let the morning pass me by!
Impossible, with two kids who depend on you. Such is life.
I’ve never run outside in extreme cold weather. Once the temperatures dip below 50, I resign myself to the treadmill. I hate the treadmill. I then resign myself to not running at all. I’ve seen many articles and reports that support running all year long, no matter what sort of climate you live in. I want to be one of those runners who can retell a fantastic run in snow, and how exhilarating it was.
I’m the type of person who needs to arm herself with the information needed in order to have a successful outcome, especially when it’s something I’ve never attempted before. So, I did some research on the Internet, and here’s what I came up with:
Question #1: What Should I Put On My Face To Protect It?
I worry about my skin; I get rosacea easily when introduced to very cold extremes, yet I also didn’t want to put anything on my face that would cause more irritation. Vaseline (petroleum jelly) acts as a barrier of protection against the elements. Petroleum jelly is also recommended for areas where you have chafing when you run, like the inner thighs, or right under the front of a sports bra.
It’s also recommended to wear a scarf around your mouth in severe conditions; breathing incredibly cold air all at once while running can cause a burning sensation in your chest, making it difficult to breathe. Having a scarf around your mouth helps to warm up the air first before you breathe it in. (If you still have burning, don’t worry. Your body needs time to adjust to the cold weather. Give it some time, and the burning will subside.)
Sunglasses are a big plus, although I’m the first to admit I often leave home without mine. Yet, lots of sun+ snow= snow blindness, so wear your glasses if it’s sunny out!
Question #2: What Should I Wear?
Let’s start at the top. 40% of body heat escapes through the head. So, you need to wear a cap to protect it. Something warm and insulating. There are running caps designed for running, but I use my good old fashioned winter hats I’ve collected over the years. You don’t want a cap though that will contain the moisture you collect while you run; you want something that wicks away sweat. A hat also protects your ears from possible frostbite. Many runner’s hats have built in panels that will cover the front of your nose and mouth.
Long sleeve shirt: Made of fibers that will also wick away moisture. I recently stopped into my favorite running store, Peak Performance, and discovered new gear designed to not only wick away sweat, but to also use it as an added insulator, so the more you sweat, the warmer you will get. This is beneficial in extreme weather conditions where you would freeze your ass off otherwise.
Jacket: A jacket that helps to wick away sweat and not absorb it is the key. If you are drenched in sweat, the sweat cools, and this will lower your body temp to cause possible hypothermia.
Gloves: You can purchase runner’s gloves; again, I am old school and use what I already have at home. I may change my mind though- my running to date has never been in below 50 degree weather. Either way, I want to protect my digits from frostbite!
Tights: You may have seen some runners out wearing tights; special running pants that are made for colder weather. I’ve yet to wear them. This will be one of my first major purchases.
Pants: If the weather is really, really cold, you may need to double up. You can put a looser pair of jogging pants over the tights, as long as it’s comfortable, and won’t lead you to an uncomfortable chafing experience. (This might be where some petroleum jelly comes into play).
Socks: Double up on those, too, when you need to. I currently wear nylon based socks to help against blisters (remember, Cotton Is Rotten). You can wear wool socks or special running socks made for winter elements over your thinner nylon ones. This means though, you may need to purchase a new pair of running shoes, which leads me to:
Question 3#: What Kind Of Shoes Should I Wear?
With thicker socks, your regular shoes may not cut it size wise. You will need to buy a size of shoe that is at least 1/2 inch larger, in order to accommodate. Also, be sure to ask if there are any type of shoes which will work better in snowier/slicker conditions. The less mesh on the front, the better. You want something that is going to protect against wetness. If you click on this link: Runner’s World Shoe Advisor it will help you to choose the best shoe for you. Also, there’s a link aiding you in what to wear based on the weather outside:
I don’t know if I’ll ever look as put together as this guy- but I’ll give it a try!