It’s not until I stood in 14 degree weather without my hand warmers that I realized I was due for my annual posting on what not to wear — or more accurately — what TO wear and do when winter blows in like a polar bear!
Here are my 10 favorite. Random in order but all tried, tested, and cold weather approved!
1. BUDDY UP! You aren’t the only one that has a race in late Spring. Tag those friends you know are battling to get out from the covers to join you, weekday or weekend style. When you know someone else is standing in the cold waiting for you, makes for motivation to get out of that warm bed. (Join CT3/CTR for you own dose of individual coaching and group training as a good option as well — killer track workout included!)
2. HAND WARMERS. Buy them in bulk. Now! Be careful on the brands though. I have found the Grabber Hand Warmers to be the most reliable. Key with hand warmers is not to throw them away during the run. Tuck them in a pocket if you don’t need them any more or take your hands out of your gloves and grab the hand warmer still in the glove to get the balance of air and heat. And trust that you will savor them after the run when you are in post run shiver mode!
3. BALACLAVA. Hard to say. Makes me think of baklava. And then makes me think of food not running. But the Balaclava (google it) is great for cold runs as it helps protect your face and yet is thin enough that you can breathe through it and not feel too muffled by it. REI / EMS good shops to find this. I don’t usually wear it fully over my head but use it more as a neck warmer that I can then pull up over my mouth / nose as needed.
4. WARMER SOCKS. Balega makes my favorite blended wool sock but there are other brands out there as well.. I have an allergy to wool so this is a great solution for me. Key here!? They are thicker and may effect how your running shoes fit. You may need to keep the laces a bit looser or even look to invest in the same run shoe a half size bigger to allow you to wear the thicker sock. It will allow the sock to do its job and keep the circulation flowing too which is just as important.
A thin tank as a base to keep your core warm. A long sleeve tech shirt and a lined wind breaker. OR a warmer fleece lined half zip with a vest. Test each and see what you favor. Over layer first and learn to trust what you need from there.
6. PROTECT THE EXTREMITIES!
a) Ears! Hat or head band. If its really cold, I go for the hat. But really prefer the headband so my head can breathe but my ears are warm!
b) Hands! Gloves are good but if its windy — gloves that also have a mitten component over them to help further shield the wind — better! Hand warmers as noted above but also remember. Skin to skin is warmest. I take my fingers out of the glove digits and make a fist around the hand warmer or just as a fist if its a bit too warm for a hand warmer. The glove still protects my hand overall but my fingers fisted together keep each other warmer.
7. SHORT AND SHED TRICK!
I’m going to patent this I swear….
I hate to be cold. I hate that I know I’ll be cold the first mile and will be burning up the next 10 miles if I dress to be warm the first mile. SO!
Go out layered up and add that one thick extra layer that is going to get you out the door. Run the OPPOSITE direction of your planned run and run for about 7 to 10 minutes. Then turn around and head back to home (or your car). Shed that added layer you knew you wouldn’t want one minute more… and continue on in the planned route direction. And bonus!!? You have that added layer waiting for you when you are done! Woohoo!
8. LESS IS MORE…
Just as it is in the extreme heat, less time in the drastic cold is equal to a longer run in milder temperatures. Why? Because your body is working a lot harder to stay warm. Your breathing will be a bit challenges as well which means you need to temper your pacing and respect the conditions equally. But I promise… getting out in the elements at least 2 times a week will really help your body learn to adapt and will make you all the stronger for it!
9. SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING…
Get out or yes. Get on the treadmill. Give yourself 20 minutes. If you are miserable, cold, or out of your mind, you can stop. But likely at that point you’ll be able to get to 30 minutes. And well then that is close to 40. From there you are in the victory zone so smile because something turned into far more than nothing!
10. HOT COCOA.
Well for me its hot coffee. But that hot treat makes it all worthwhile!
Embrace the elements. Makes you more ready for whatever race day brings. And yea, it makes you look pretty bad arse out there too!
Let’s do this!