Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Polar Vortex Running Survival Guide

Conversation that took place at 5:40 a.m. this morning before heading out on our run:

Jess: "I was getting nervous on my drive over here, parts of the way my thermometer said -10 degrees, but it warmed up a lot as I got closer."
Me: "To what? Zero?"
Jess: "Yes..."

Seven miles later, I looked like this:

It was zero degrees on, and snow literally froze to my body and formed on my clothing as I sweat through and it froze.  But you know what?  It was fine!  We ran 7 miles this morning on PAVEMENT, which was a miraculous feeling after the past two runs we had.  Despite the frigid temperatures out, there wasn't really wind and the run went pretty well.  According to a post I saw the other day on Facebook, 'There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."

So what is it that I wear when I run outside in these temperatures?  Lots of layers!  I decided to write a short blog about some of the "gear" that has been helping me through my runs.  I know that everyone says running is so great because you only need sneakers and that's all! But, in reality, it helps to have some gear.  Below is a picture from a few weeks back when we ran about 6 miles in 1 degree temperatures.  It is a pretty typical outfit that shows all the elements I want to talk about so let's just go from here.

Typical outfit.
- Bottoms:  When the weather gets this cold, I personally need more than just running tights.  I found these great pants at Marshall's actually that are brand and they are thick and keep me really warm.  This is what I wore this past Saturday when we ran the half marathon.  Otherwise, I usually wear a pair of running tights, with a pair of sweatpants on over.  That is what I had on this morning as well as these other frigid days.

- Tops:  Layers, layers, layers.  First, I usually put on one of my summer weather running tops just because it makes me feel better to have something tight and extra on my core.  Then I put on a thin long sleeved top over that.  Make sure both of these layers are sweat wicking to pull any moisture off of your body.  Even though it's cold, I still sweat!  On top of that I like to wear a thicker, warmer layer.  Then on top of that something that breaks the wind & chill.  I've been using this formula and it's worked out pretty well for me!  Oh, and you GOTTA have thumb holes!

- Feet: I need at least 2 pairs of socks at this time of year.  Usually I put a thicker, longer pair on first -- wool is good.  I like a thicker pair that I can pull up underneath my running tights so that there is NO skin exposed anywhere.  Over that, I put on regular short running socks.  On the coldest days where I am running longer distances (such as today and on Saturday) I use foot warmers.  I had one set of foot warmers that you put on the soles of your feet, covering the whole foot which I loved and kept my feet feeling great. I can't find those anymore so I've been using ones that just cover your toes and you can put them above or below the foot.  I put them above the foot and in between the two layers of socks.  My feet usually get really, really cold so the foot warmers help with that a lot and keep me from going numb.

- Hands: I love running with mittens.  My fingers always get cold when I run with gloves, but mittens really help for me.  I have a pair of fleece lined wool mittens that keep my hands really warm.  Most days I usually end up taking off my mittens for portions of the run.  I HATE when my hands get cold, so on days I am worried about that I will bring hand warmers too, but that ALWAYS makes my hands get sweaty.  However, it's better to be prepared I think.  You can always take layers off while you're out there, but you can't add them!  You see me with my mittens in my hands up above.

- Head: I love running with headbands ear covering headbands but when the temperatures get really down, covering my whole head is necessary.  For Christmas I got 2 great neck warmer/hats that keep your neck warmer pulled up high.  I need to be sure that my neckwarmer is tucked into my top and that my hat is connected to the neckwarmer.  Like I said -- zero air exposure!

- Headlamp: This doesn't help at all with cold weather but it is totally necessary when you are running before the sun is up!  Or when the sun goes down for that matter.  Jess got this as a gift for me and I love it.  It is super strong and in addition to helping me to see, it helps others to see me as well.  Which brings me to my next point...

- Reflectors:  Make sure you are visible out there!  Be sure that your outermost layers have lots of reflective gear on them.  The top I have on in this photo has some reflection but I also have on two Nathan's Reflex Snap Bands.  One on my wrist and one on my ankle.  On the opposite foot I have on a heel protecting light also made by Nathan called LightSpurs that you can see bright red.  It wraps around your sneaker, stays totally snug, and can either be a solid red or a blinking red.  It is great for an additional level of visibility.

- Garmin Forerunner:  I love my Garmin!  I've had it for over a year now and it's still going strong.  My friends and I are conditioned to "run for the beep!" and it helps keep me going.  When iPhones zonk out in the cold or the heat or the rain, my Garmin stays with me.  Heck yes!

- Chap stick or face protector: For any exposed skin I have on my face, I rub Palmer's Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick all over it.  My nose runs and my face gets moist in this weather and the last thing I want is to get chapped, so i just smear this stuff all over.  It feels weird at first but you will be glad you did!

- Running Yak Trax: These are funky little rubber things that you wrap around your sneakers and they've got some spikes and some wire coils that help provide traction.  I've done a lot of running in the Yaks and they've really helped me feel more secure in my footing when running on packed snow and ice.  You don't notice them too but, but if you happen to be on flat ground, they are pretty annoying.  Definitely a necessity for snowy running though!

So, those are a bit of my running necessities for this polar vortex that we've been having nowadays.  It really helps me to feel like I am the most possibly prepared as I can be for running in the winter.  For those of you who have been following here for a while know that I was not always this prepared. My runs last late spring while training for the half marathon, I would get so cold and my body would just shut down.  I stocked up on this gear because staying warm is key for me.

And as Jess taught me during the Stokade-athon... if you are still cold... just run faster!!! :)

1 comment:

  1. Aah! So funny - I just googled "Yak Traks" after your post yesterday because I was dying to know what they were... if only I had waited 24 hours! Great info, KTB!