Monday, February 15, 2016

Enduring the Cold

Running outside in the cold weather will toughen you up for your spring season.  As someone who has lived in MD for most of my life, the winters here aren't really that bad.  Not if you compare it to, let's say Minnesota, Colorado, or Maine.  There are some tough, tough, runners I have met from those areas.  Many of them are the best runners in the country.  So, here in DC and MD, when it gets down to the single digits or we get 3 feet of snow, it seems epic.  Yeah, it's cold, but it's manageable if you wear the right gear.  Anything in the single digits is certainly manageable.  It's when you get below zero things can get really rough.  Although I can't speak from personal experience on anything colder than zero degrees.  At least not yet.  The one thing that's annoying is when a track gets covered in snow and you want/need to do a speed workout.  I tend to gravitate towards the treadmill when needing to run fast if the roads/track are covered/dangerous to run on.  To me, the risk of injury is not worth it.  The alternative is a parking garage.  Whatever works so you can run fast without interruption.  That is the important thing about speed workouts.  But running in the cold is all about wearing the right gear.  If you don't wear the right stuff, you will suffer.
In addition to wearing running specific apparel for your upper and lower body, there are 3 areas that a runner needs to focus on that are sensitive in the cold:  Head, Hands, Feet.  Our bodies are wired to keep our extremities warm, so all the blood stays near the most important areas for survival.  Towards the left of the photo below, are the sub 20 degree stuff I wear....towards the right you get closer to 40 degrees.  Most specialty running stores will have these, and they come in different sizes.

0-20: Saucony Drylete Balaclava.  I wear this during a blizzard or during extreme cold temperatures.  It protects the skin and prevents chapped lips.  Keeping your head and face warm keeps your body warm.  You lose a lot of heat through your head.

20-40: Saucony Drylete Skullcap.  The skullcap is amazingly warm for how thin it is and I like to wear this in solid 30 degree temperatures.

30-40: Saucony Drylete Headband.  This is also quite warm for how small it is, but usually better for anything above 30.

0-20: Saucony Run Mitt.  This mitten is bulletproof against wind, and bitter cold temperatures.  The mitten is your best friend when it is this cold.  Your fingers are all in one unit so heat is transferred to each finger more efficiently than a glove.  This is why even if you wear thick gloves, they won't work well, and hardly compare to this mitten.

20-40: Saucony Ulti Mitt.  This is the 2 in 1 Glove/Mitt that I love because of how versatile it is.  I like this because it is also very light and great to use during speed workouts.  It is also good to use on windy days.

30-40: Saucony Nomad Glove.  This glove is actually very good in cold rain.  It is ideal for 30-40 degree temperatures.  The Saucony Ultimate Touch-Tek Glove(not pictured) is usually a solid 40-49 degree lightweight glove, good to use in a race with slightly cooler conditions.

Feet: Feetures! Merino Wool are my favorite winter running socks.  I use them when the temperatures are in the 30's or lower.  Feet need to stay warm because it helps other areas like the Achilles stay warm as well.  The pounding from running in the cold also is harder on the feet so even though you have your running shoes on the cold from the ground gets transferred to your feet very easily.

    Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor/licensed professional.

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