Friday, February 5, 2021

Embracing Cold, Dark Runs

 It's winter. Cold, dark winter. Most of my running life has been spent in Las Vegas. Don't get me wrong, Vegas does get cold. It's just not New York cold. With over 2 feet of snow that dropped this past week, it seemed like the perfect time to update everyone on my quest to be less miserable in the cold weather!

I've been working my way through Run the Year 2021, which means some long runs outside. I just can't put down 8 miles on a treadmill, especially now that masks are required at the gym. I'm also working my way down the thermometer. I've currently survived the 20-degree temps. Not sure how much lower I'll actually go. Hopefully Spring comes early and I won't have to keep this up too much longer.

What have I learned? In short, winter running is not cute. Nothing matches, because it's all about function and layers. I've also learned that gear is important. Here's a few notes of what's working for me:

Clothes: I got a vest from Kohl's a while back (not even for running, but just because it was cute), and it's working perfectly! It's a loud yellow color and keeps my core totally cozy. I will occasionally pull up the hood when needed. Beyond that, I layer up a tank, long sleeve, and jacket for most runs. If it's a bit warmer (for cold weather), I ditch the long sleeve. I still need to master the pants, and just getting new, thick socks was enough for my feet for now. 

For my head, wearing an ear muff headband is working well. I have a few, and while the thicker one is clearly warmer, I found my cheep one from Amazon works best with my Aftershokz. My fleece buff also has come in handy. I have old gloves, but that's another upgrade I need to make soon.

Lighting: It's not only cold, it's also dark, so I got a headlamp from Home Depot on a black Friday sale. Works great so I can see where I'm going. For the cars to see me, Katie got me a Noxgear vest. That thing is amazing! So lightweight and bright. I'm much more comfortable running at odd hours now. I highly recommend it!

Shoes: Here is another upgrade, but I don't think I'll be taking the leap right now. Many runners will run in ice and snow, so that usually also means a different shoe to have better traction. I haven't gotten there yet; maybe next year!

Hydration: I have yet to bring hydration with me (I've only gone up to 8 miles), and this is another place where I can improve. Your body just doesn't give you the same signals when it's so cold. I hydrate before and after. This weekend, a 10-miler is on the plan, so hydration is a must. I plan to carry my regular belt, but will also be sure to regularly sip so nothing freezes. One tip I read (can't take credit) is take a sip every 5 minutes. That is enough to be sure ice crystals don't start to freeze in your water. 

What are you favorite cold weather running tips? I'm sure I can use more! Leggings? Gloves? I have a few more things I need to add to the arsenal! Stay warm out there :)