Living in a climate that embraces all the seasons can be challenging for a runner. However, for me, there’s no season worse for running than winter. I loathe the cold winds, the freezing temps, and the icy roads. But, I hate the treadmill more and I simply can not fathom giving up this sport just because the weather has turned foul. After years of frost bite, icy eyelashes, and chills, I have found a few tricks to take on mother nature and continue running through the winter.
If I can impart one tip to a runner in the cold, this is the most important one: Wear mittens. Be sure you read that right, I said mittens, not gloves, mittens. Gloves are great and I have several pairs. I use them in the cool seasons. But when the temps are below freezing, mittens are the best way to keep those digits warm. Technically, mittens have a higher thermal efficiency than gloves. I don’t operate in the technical world too well. All I know is that after years of pain, as my hands would start to go numb and my run was consumed with the pain, I tried a pair of mittens and my hands actually got sweaty they were so warm. Make sure to get them early, because stores sell out fast. You can thank me later.
Another wonderful tip is to invest in a good wind breaker. When the cold north wind is howling, a great jacket can stop that bitterness from getting to you. If you can keep your core warm, you can stay pretty comfortable no matter the temperature. Most wind break shells are waterproof, too. This is a double bonus as the snow and ice like to spit from time to time. A jacket becomes worth its salt when you can stay warm and dry during a winter storm.
This tip is one your mom’s been harping about since you were little. Well, at least mine has, and as much as I like to prove her wrong, mom was right. “Keep those ears covered!” Whatever means of doing this that is most comfortable for you is fine, but you have to keep your ears warm. Yes, the whole head can get cold, but the ears can turn blue. A beanie, ear muffs, ear warmers, or a head band are all good for cold weather protection, just find one that works for you and remember mom’s big bulging, threatening eyes as you head out the door!
Just because there’s ice and snow on the ground does not mean you get to take the day off! You have to be wise and you have to be okay with slower paces when the roads are a mess. However, thanks to this next tip, I can still log some great paces even when it’s a wonderland outside. YakTrax have redeemed my winter running. They are added traction for your shoes. They simply slip on the bottom of a shoe and prevent nearly all slipping. The coils take just a minute to get used to and before you know it, you’re trucking along when you previously would have had to go much slower and risk falling.
Mother nature is a tough cookie, but she hasn’t beaten me yet. After years of trial and error, I have found these great ways to stay comfortable even though it’s miserable outside. And while I loathe the winter and all the hiccups it tries to through into my running, I will concede that those inside by the fire are missing the best sights of the season. There’s nothing more peaceful and rewarding than running through the falling snow- while staying warm that is!
September 28th, 2011