Winter Running

Winter showed up a couple weeks “early” (who am I kidding, this is the midwest, I’m surprised it didn’t show up in September) – it snowed for the first time yesterday. I have a bit of a personal “code” when it comes to running outside. Basically, I feel guilty for running inside unless it is:

  • Raining (because glasses)
  • Under 20 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Blizzarding

Yesterday, it was a whole 26 degrees and snowing only lightly, so I opted for running outside. This is not that abnormal for me – I just bundled up and went. It went well for about the first 2 miles, but then I got a lot of phlegm in my throat and it was harder to breathe so I had to slow down. As I get used to the cold, though, I am sure it will improve.

Anyway, I then went home and posted a Facebook status about how hardcore I am for running in the snow (because I’m modest like that). My two most amusing responses:

  • Disbelief/amazement (from someone who biked to school, which I refrained from due to the ice)
  • The opinion that this does NOT make me hardcore but silly (why run outside when I could chose to be WARM??)

In addition to the fact that I will feel guilty for being too “lazy” to run outside in the cold, I really just prefer running outside, which is a major reason that I do it. I really hate treadmills – in fact, my first time on a treadmill was less than a year ago because I used to find them terrifying.

EXACTLY what I imagined would happen the moment I stepped on a treadmill:

Additionally, I don’t think it is that difficult to stay warm outside when running. In fact, I got somewhat sweaty out there running yesterday. I’ve had years of practice at staying warm in the winter, though – not only am I the COLDEST person alive (I might currently be wrapped in two blankets while wearing a sweater under a hoodie), but I was also in marching band for years. Note: marching band involves wearing “nothing” but a polyester uniform during football season. At the beginning of the season, this is way too warm; by the end of the season, you have discovered how to hide hundreds of layers under it. Since I find it so easy to bundle up for outdoor winter activities, I thought I’d discuss what exactly I wear to stay warm. I will probably link to a few specific products/discuss some specific brands, but these are mostly for illustrative purposes; most of my stuff was purchased because it was super cheap, not because I thought it was the best brand ever, and it works fine.

  • On my head: I typically wear one of those headbands that goes around your ears. I think the one linked is the one I have, and I got it for like $5 last year. It works fine, but I would note that even Target has much nicer ones (meaning that this is basically the crappiest one in the world and it still works fine). I might be switching to a hat – my hair keeps me less warm now that I cut it short and it flies out of my headband. Additionally, the headband doesn’t fit under my bike helmet very well. I bought a beanie at Dollar Tree for these purposes; I will have to provide an update on how that works out.
  • On my torso: This depends a little on temperature/conditions. If it is sunny and in the upper 30s/low 40s, I just wear an insulated long-sleeved shirt. I linked an Under Armour one, which I actually have. It is quite pricey, but I would note that I have owned this shirt for 12 years and it still works fine (I wore it all throughout high school, it is quite stretchy so it only stopped fitting senior year or so and has fit since I lost weight, so maybe 5-6 years of actual use?). I would note, however, that I also have an off-brand one from TJ Maxx that I love because it rides up less and has thumbholes and was like $20. So you don’t necessarily need the $50 shirt. If it is windy/cloudy/below 35ish, I add a fleece jacket. I have this one, which I purchased only because I worked at Target and it came in red and I needed a cheap jacket to wear at work. I have no loyalty to this jacket. In fact, I bought this one yesterday to wear for non-running purposes because I think the red one is ugly (don’t tell the red one!).
  • On my legs: I usually wear insulated running tights. The ones I have are some brand I have never heard of, but you could reference Under Armour cold gear again. The insulated ones will have a fuzzy inside, if you are uncertain of what to get. My legs don’t usually get as cold, so I also find that sometimes just plain compression tights without any insulation (like the ones I am wearing in my trail race photo) work fine. If they are see through or very tight, I wear regular running shorts over them. I saw yesterday that Old Navy is now carrying tights like this with a built in skirt over them, which is nice, but I haven’t tried those yet.
  • On my hands: I have two pairs of gloves. One pair is a cheap pair from Target, which I like because they tend to get dirty and I don’t mind ruining them, but this pair (unlike the one I linked to) is not touchscreen compatible. I do have a pair of Isotoner Smart Touch gloves that are much warmer (and are touchscreen compatible) and sometimes I sacrifice them (I do have 2 pairs, after all) to stay a little warmer.
  • On my feet. I just wear normal running socks and shoes most of the time (I buy my running socks cheaply at TJ Maxx). If you have very thin shoes or get cold feet easily you might want to wear wool running socks or add wool socks over your regular running socks. I’ve heard Smart Wool’s PhD socks (note: random link, not sure if good price) are good for that purpose. I also have spikes I can put over my shoes in the case that it is very icy. Note: these do not work well unless there is ice everywhere, because otherwise they just cause you pain from hitting against the pavement. The ones I linked are random ones I got as a present. I’m sure any brand is equally lovely.

Oh, and by the way – this is a great tool for figuring out roughly what you should wear given your weather conditions, in case you didn’t know about it yet!

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