Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Running in Winter...It's Cold

Thanksgiving morning I went out and did 4 miles.  It was a nice morning to be barefoot!  About 45 degrees or so and sunny.  I figured it would be one of the last times I would be able to get out barefoot this year.  I was right!  About two days later I started to get a sore throat, and by the morning after I had the black plague in my lungs.  That was annoying since I bragged up that I would get at least 50 miles in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I didn't get out again until today.  Nearly two weeks!  50 miles is going to be a little more difficult now, especially with the impending birth of offspring #2!

So, this is my first winter of running outside.  Last winter was all on the treadmill, with my trusty role model Jack Bauer saving the world on DVD.  Being that I was still deeply in hate with running it was really more of a run/walk/stand and watch TV sort of endeavor.

It was 17 degrees when I headed out tonight.  I was pretty unsure about how it was going to go.  Two weeks off, still a bit of a cough, 17 degrees out.  Yikes.  For those of you wondering, I did not go barefoot.  I'm crazy, not stupid.  There's a subtle difference.

Since I don't even get a coat out until the temp is below 30, I wasn't that worried about being cold, but I didn't want to freeze.  Here's what I wore, hoping it would be right:
  • UnderArmour compression shirt  (If you don't have one of these you need one.  They make you feel like a superhero when you wear them.)
  • Cotton thermal shirt
  • UnderArmour fleece pullover
  • fleece vest
  • UnderArmour compression shorts
  • Two pairs regular old gym shorts (down to knee)
  • Mittens (knit wool, snowflake motif)
  • Stocking hat (no poofball)
  • Merrell Trail Gloves (no socks)
Was I cold?  Nope.  My legs were a little chilly for the first quarter mile, but I didn't even notice that after a while.  My favorite part of tonight's run?  I ran past someone huddled and shivering on their porch having a smoke and she felt the urge to comment "Little cold for shorts, don't you think?"  I let that one go.  Apparently it's too cold to run in shorts, but shaking on your porch for long enough to burn down a heater is appropriate.  To each their own.

Like I said I still have a little cough so I didn't want to push it too hard today.  I did 1.6 miles at a 9:30 pace, so I may have gotten cold if I stayed out longer but who knows.

What did I learn on my first dead-of-winter run?
  1. It's cold, but not that cold.  I was kind of dreading this run, but it went just fine.  Keep the core warm, the legs will take care of themselves.
  2. Wear gloves.  I was out a few weeks ago at about 40 degrees and my hands suffered even though my feet were fine wearing Invisible Shoes.  The mittens tonight were awesome.
  3. Wondering about your running form?  Run on some ice!  That sounds crazy, but if you are over-striding or pushing off on ice you will slip.  Running on ice is instant feedback and great when you lose the barefoot sensations by putting on shoes to deal with the cold.
  4. The best part of winter running?  Ice on your facial hair!
You cant really see the ice under my nose, but trust me it was there.
Are you an experienced winter runner?  Leave your best tips in the comments so everyone can learn from you!  Are you an inexperienced winter runner?  Tell us what you have learned so far!

Run on, Runners!


  1. I'm a very inexperienced winter runner, considering I live in Phoenix where we never get snow...or even temps below freezing for that matter. But since I was born and raised her, I am certainly acclimated to being and Arizonan who gets cold at 65 degrees (or inside any building).

    My first cooler weather run that I experienced was last week. It was only 53. I can't yet bring myself to run early in the morning when it's in the high 30s-low 40s. Maybe when I get a little thicker pair of leggings. I'm not running far yet so my feet don't have much time to warm up so my toes stay pretty cold. My last run I wore a tank top, fleece pullover, capri length leggings, VFF Sprints, and a knit cap. I ended up taking the cap off and realized I should've left my gloves on from before I left the house.

    My husband wants to move to Prescott or Flagstaff where it gets very cold and snows, but until that happens, I'm ok with what I can learn to stand here.

    Run on!

  2. I'm learning to run more in the cold, and especially on snow and ice. You are right about the ice providing a good form check! I'm crazy, but not stupid also, so running in my old running shoes, and yaktrax because the Incline was snow and ice covered, as well as the trail down.

    I find that I tend to overdress a little bit.. but I'd rather be a little too warm, than frozen solid.. Once I get moving I warm up pretty fast... people used to laugh at me when I lived in Alaska... I once cross country skied at -35F and the steam would just roll off my back and head :-)

    I do miss my invisible shoes though.. if it was just cold, and no snow and ice, I'd run in those with injinji's. I am going to invest in a pair of Vivobarefoot Neo Trails specifically for winter running though... my running shoes were annoying this morning..

    And its funny, I have almost that same picture of myself I took this morning with the frosty coverage... will post up on FB.


  3. Double up on t-shirts - keep your core warm and your extremities follow. I throw on running tights under a light pair of pants when it gets colder (like below 20). If I'm not a little cold when I start I am too hot when I finish.