Running in the Cold and Inclement Weather

week84The first thing that I do every morning when I wake up is to grab my smartphone off my nightstand. Checking email? No. Facebook? Nope. Missed calls? Nada. I’m checking the weather. I unlock my phone and scroll right to the weather app and give it a morning tap.

To be precise, I have five weather apps on my iPhone. Yes, five. Since weather is considered to be a science, one would think theses apps would be able to tell me the same weather predictions for the day. But they don’t. Each one gives a slight variation. Some are right on, most are way off. I find this amusing and frustrating at the same time.

The two things I check (on my preferred weather app of the moment) is the chances of precipitation and the temperatures; the coolest hour of the day in the summer and the warmest time slot in the winter. After all a girl has to run, doesn’t she? I am just need to pre-determine the most optimum time to do so around my schedule of the day.

Next up, what to dress in during my run of the day. Sure it’s easy on the warmer and hot days. Shorts, sleeveless top, baseball cap, sunblock, sunglasses, and my favorite running shoes will do. Tunes are sweet, too. But all can become trickier when the weather is colder, especially when it is frigid outside and dipping down to the teens.

There is a finesse to bundling up when running outside during the winter months, especially when there is a wind chill factor. The trick is to stay dry and warm while not getting overheated, especially the colder it gets. Since I am also skier, I typically dive into my ski clothing and pull out the thinnest but warmest layers of clothes. Keep in mind everyone’s own tolerance to the cold and heat differs. So the clothing needs to be modified and customized for each individual runner. So what I’m about to share with you is what works for me on cold frigid days basically once it hits the low 40s but especially when it’s 32 degrees or below, from head to toe.

Head, Neck and Face
Since you will lose about 40% of your body heat is lost through your head, wear a lightweight breathable thermal hat that is made from fleece or wool so your head doesn’t get too sweaty and one that you can pull down over your ears. Another option is an ear band, depending on your tolerance and the temp. For extra warmth, pull on a balaclava, aka ski mask, to protect your face from the wind and are a must when temps drop into the teens. Another beloved article of ski clothing that I use on my frigid running days is a neck gaiter also keeps my chin warm and helps to prevent burning lungs. Also, don’t forget to apply Chapstick or Vaseline for your lips, sunscreen with a SPF for your face, and sunglasses to block out the sun glare, especially when reflecting off snow.

Upper Body
You want to keep the body dressed in three thin, yet warm, layers, which help to trap warm air inside and allow for easy perspiration. For ladies, wear a wicking bra and a wicking tank for starters. Then first up, wear a fitted long-sleeve shirt made of synthetic wicking material, such as DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, polypropolene, or silk. Next, pull on another long-sleeve shirt, this one made from fleece. Try Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece or Thermax. Your third and final layer should be wind and waterproof jacket with preferably a hood and one that zips. Use a breathable layer of nylon or Gore-Tex. For my hands, I have an assortment of gloves to select from depending on that day’s temp. For the frigid days, I’ll use hand warmers in needed, glove liners then fleece-lined waterproof gloves made for running or outdoor activities. Mittens are also great as they keep your fingers even warmer.

Lower Body
Since your legs generate heat, you won’t need as many layers as with your upper body. Running tights made of wicking or wind-proof pants made of synthetic material, such as Thermion, Thinsulate, Thermax, polypropolene, or Coolmax, should do just fine. Use both layers on frigid days.

Ankles and Feet
For your feet, wear a pair of wicking socks made of fabrics such as acrylic, CoolMax, or wool and not cotton socks, which won’t keep your feet warm or dry and safe from blisters. The higher they rise up your legs, the better! Or pull on gaiters over your calves to keep you dry and warm. Then wear running shoes with as little mesh as possible or water-resistant, trail running shoes to block out the wind and sop water seepage and ones with thick treads that are not well worn to help prevent slipping. If you know you will be running on ice and snow, slip on a pair of ice spikes or ice grippers over your running shoes for added traction and prevent slipping. One other suggestion is to place feet warmers in your running shoes. I do this frequently with long weekend runs.

A few final recommendations. Stay hydrated! Despite the cold weather, you will still warm up and perspire. Avoid overdressing. Remember, you’ll heat up once you get going. Start your runs going against the wind so when you are heading back, the wind won’t be chilling your sweaty body. Avoid puddles, slush, and snow and if you do get wet, change out of your running attire as soon as arrive back inside as you are at an increased risk for hypothermia and possibly frostbite. Wear reflective clothing for better visibility and be cautious when running in the snow and on the ice. During extreme temperatures, be smart and just run indoors!

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.
Adriana


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