When you live in a place that gets colder than Mars, like it was in Chicago last week, you learn a thing or 2 about running in the cold. Oh sure, I could run inside, on my treadmill, but what fun is that? I did one treadmill run last week and it was like a torture treatment. It was dark and icy and I did have to go to work, so sometimes a runner's gotta do...but there is a reason I have a 20 year old treadmill. It barely gets used.
I look at winter running as just one more item on my list of running challenges. But instead of complaining about running in the cold or making excuses for not heading outside, I embrace it. Most of the time, running in the winter isn't horrible. Most of the time, running in the winter is pretty nice.
A lot of folks have been sharing their tips about running outside. Along those lines, I wanted to share a few things about winter running that just maybe you've never even thought about.
The thermometer doesn't tell the whole story. Actually, the thermometer is a liar. In the winter, it's all about the wind: wind speed, wind direction, and wind chill. Cloud cover and humidity can also make your run go from refreshing to raw. Last Sunday I ran in those colder than Mars conditions. But the sun was out and the wind was relatively light. Yes, it was cold, and I dressed appropriately. Sometimes the thermometer can be misleading. If it is really windy and there's a good snow pack, that 32F reading is going to feel much colder than a 10F reading on a calm, sunny day. Add in some humidity--either wet snow or cold rain--that's a whole other pain. I also look at the wind direction to know what part of my run is going to be more challenging and head out into that wind first. You know, to get it over with.
You're going to overdress. The general rule of thumb for running is to dress for conditions at least 10-20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. You should feel cold when you first start out, because as you get moving, you'll warm up. But the temperatures can be intimidating, especially early in the season when you forget how to dress for the cold. When I ran yesterday, it was 34 degrees and sunny with a light wind. I wore a light base layer and a heavier pullover and tights. I was very comfortable. I saw other runners wearing face masks and one in a winter coat! He had to be sweltering. Actually, if my hands and feet are warm, the rest is easy.
No matter how warmly you're dressed, your butt will get cold. And that is the golden rule of winter running. I use those hot hands and hot feet warmer packs for my hands and feet on those brutally cold days, but what I really could use is bun warmers. I wish the hot hands company would make some. I'd buy them.
Your phone gets cold too. I've gotten the black screen of death aka the temperature screen more times than I care to admit. It usually happens on those brutally cold runs where I'm making deals with myself to get my run done. It's not pretty when the music stops and I'm struggling for motivation. I've started wearing my SpiBelt inside my tights and putting my phone in there to keep it warm.
It's therapeutic. Running outside in the winter can be a real treat. There is nothing better than a run in the snow, either while it's coming down or right after the storm. There's a certain peacefulness in the snow. Being outside in the natural light is good for the brain and can help fight off seasonal depression. Running in the snow can make you feel like a kid again! I've had fun playing with my jumping and my yoga poses this past week.
Things you do know but I need to mention: Be safe. A lot of the sidewalks and running paths aren't clear this time of year, forcing us into the roads. Drivers may not see you or they may not be able to stop in time when they see you. Wear high visibility clothing so you stand out. YakTrax are my go to when there is snow cover on the roads. They aren't so great on black ice, though.
Running in the winter can be so much fun if you are prepared for the conditions! How about you? Do you embrace the winter? Or do you hibernate?
I'm linking up with the Friday v 2.0 hosted by Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy!