Tag Archives: Cold

Baby, it’s cold outside

The forecast for Silver Spring, Md., at 7 p.m., when I’m slated to meet up for my group run: 30 degrees. Clear. Feels like 21 degrees. Wind, 10 mph from the N/NW. My teeth are chattering just thinking about it.

It’s apparently going to warm up a bit by the weekend. But for tonight, it’s back to my cold-weather coping mechanisms.

My main line of defense: My several layers of running clothes, including: my ancient Brooks running tights; a technical T-shirt and long-sleeved shirt; a fleece hat from the George Washington 10K Classic; my Mizuno Breath Thermo gloves, made from some fancy material that actually heats up when you sweat; a pair of fleece gloves (yep, I even layer my gloves); and finally, if it’s really cold, an old North Face fleece. Now, of course, I add my reflective vest as the final layer.

I'll wear all of these clothes on my run tonight. Really. All at the same time.

A few other helpful resources:

  • A guest blog post from my Minnesotan running friend about coping with the cold.
  • A collection of Runner’s World stories about coping with the cold, compiled here. This includes some tips from David Nieman, Ph.D., who heads the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University, including this winner: If you’re worried about it being too cold to breathe comfortably, try wearing a neck gaiter and covering your nose and mouth with it. Your breath will humidify the air, making it easier to breathe. So simple!

How do you cope with the cold? What piece of cold-weather gear can you not live without? Share your tips by posting a comment!


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Cold-weather tips from the (truly) frosty north

It’s cold, and I’m tired.

How many of us have used this as an excuse to stay inside over the past couple weeks? The low here could drop to 22 degrees tonight, which means I need some extra motivation to make me get out the door to my group run tonight. So I asked my friend Amy Sanders, who moved to Minnesota recently from Gainesville,. Fla., for some tips. In Minneapolis, forecasters are predicting single-digit temperatures this week, with HIGHS in the 20s on some days. Thinking of her heading out the door in that weather, with her YakTrax and balaclava, makes me feel like an idiot for even thinking about skipping.

Here’s a list of ten tips from Amy for coping with the cold:

1) YakTrax can be a life-saver (or at least spare you from breaking a leg) when it is slippery outside. And, they work a bit better than the old-fashioned “screws in the bottom of your shoes” method.

2) A&D ointment does wonders for chapped skin on your face. You can find it in the baby aisle at the store, and I swear by it to keep my lips from peeling all winter long.

3) Base-layer clothes are essential. They don’t have to be expensive, but they do have to be the kind that wick wetness away. Then add a warmth layer and a wind-blocking layer.

4) On really cold days, when a hat alone won’t do, buy a balaclava. They cover your head, neck and ears at once. And, when you get to hot, you can push it down just around your neck like a scarf.

5) I swear by good socks in the winter. If you feet get wet or cold or both, you are done for. Typically I do at least two layers if it is below freezing: one to keep my feet warm and one to keep them dry in case I hit any snow.

6) Good stretching before and after is even more important when it is really cold. I try to get warm before I head outside with some jumping jacks or running in place so my muscles stay loose.

7) You have to keep the hands warm. I have a friend who swears by socks instead of gloves or mittens. She says they keep her warm and she puts on layers so she can take them off in layers if she gets too hot.

8) Waterproof your shoes. Again, running in the winter is all about staying dry to stay warm. Buy a can of the waterproofing spray at your local sporting goods store and apply several coats.

9) If you run with dogs, remember to think about them too. I won’t let my guys out the door when it is below 20 unless they have something to keep them warm (besides their fur). And, the chemicals for snow removal can irritate their paws, so I am careful where I let them run.

10) Some days you just have to call it a day. Either hit the gym or take a rest if it is too cold outside for your personal preference. I call it quits around 15-20 degrees, but I have friends who run until it is zero. It just depends on your body. There is no shame in not running outside because it is too cold for you — just don’t use it as an excuse to be lazy.


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Run like a yak

This blog is about running on ice.

No, silly, not the Billy Joel song.

I’m talking about the nasty stuff that shellacs sidewalks and coats roads this time of year, sending even the most hard-core runners inside to endure treadmill workouts.

We’re enduring some cold temps in Washington this week, but it’s nothing compared to the snow, ice AND cold my friend Kaveh is dealing with. Kaveh, who moved to New Hampshire recently after growing up and going to school in Florida, asked for some ice advice in a comment a few posts ago, and here’s my best attempt at providing some tips.

First, find some snow. Yeah, I know — we usually avoid snowy trails, sidewalks, etc. But snow is slow rather than slippery, meaning a) you’ll be able to run outside without fearing death, and b) you’ll get an extra-hard workout, like running on the beach instead of the road.

Second — and this is revolutionary to me — put screws in your shoes. I vaguely remember some people in Boulder doing this so they could continue to run on the trails in the winter. You can make your own using this how-to. You can also buy pre-made versions called Yaktrax, which I’m tempted to buy myself just so I can tell people I’m going running in my Yaktrax. According to the Web site, you’ll want to check out the Yaktrax Pro, designed for “a mail carrier, runner, outside worker or someone who faces winter conditions on a daily basis.” It strikes me that regular ol’ cleats should work, too, though they may not offer the ankle support you’d need to slog through the wintry ugliness.

This all sounds like a lot of work, which leads me to one last tip: Opt for fewer, longer runs to make each time you suit up worth it.

Got any running-on-ice tips? Please, please post ’em below!

Incidentally, Kaveh passed along a good cold-weather tip for those of us dealing with the chill in milder climates: Wear gloves, even when you don’t think you need ’em. This makes perfect sense to me, as my hands are usually the first thing to get cold.

As for my training log, I’m getting ready to do the stationary bike for a late lunch break. After skiing all weekend, my legs need a low-impact wakeup call before running again. Something embarrassing: My glutes are STILL sore from a tough lifting workout on Thursday and a speedy (for me) 8-miler on Friday!

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More tips for coping with cold (and colds)

It’s cold and flu season, which conveniently coincides with “it’s too cold to run” season. My friend Jen posed some questions yesterday about how to deal with this fact, so I’m posting some tips here in response. Here’s Jen’s question:

“I ran 6 miles on the treadmill over 2 weeks ago (I know, it’s just not cool to run long distances indoors, but I did). I got sick shortly after, and have not done a thing since. I’ve been tricking myself into thinking that I can’t run because I have this lingering, awful cough and still need to “rest.” How long do you usually take off after being sick? My 2nd question is, What do you wear when running outside? I always think it’s too cold and I’ll have trouble breathing. I think I’m wrong.”

I struggle with the too-sick-to-run issue, too. I usually run even when I’m practically hacking up a lung, which I’m sure has prolonged many an illness. So I consulted Runner’s World for advice. Check out the whole story here, but I’m digging the “neck rule” from David Nieman, Ph.D., who heads the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University: “Symptoms below the neck (chest cold, bronchial infection, body ache) require time off, while symptoms above the neck (runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing) don’t pose a risk to runners continuing workouts.” Nieman has run 58 marathons and ultras, so I’m sure he’s practiced what he preaches.

As for how to dress in cold weather, if you’re worried about it being too cold to breathe comfortably, try wearing a neck gaiter and covering your nose and mouth with it. Your breath will humidify the air, making it easier to breathe.

The best rule of thumb I’ve heard is to dress for a run as if it’s 20 degrees warmer than it actually is.This morning, when I headed out for an 8-mile run (my longest of the week), my car’s thermostat read 27 degrees. I wore: A pair of Brooks running tights; a Dri-Fit T-shirt and long-sleeved shirt made from similar material; an ancient North Face fleece; my fleece hat from the George Washington 10K Classic; and my Mizuno Breath Thermo gloves, made from some fancy material that actually heats up when you sweat. These are AMAZING if you’re a sweatball like me.

Oh, and I don’t think long-distance running on a treadmill is uncool – it’s hard-core! It’s easy to head out for a run on a balmy spring day or a chilly autumn one. It’s what you do when it’s in the 20s and icky that makes you a runner, whether that’s treadmilling or braving the cold.

Check out several Runner’s World stories about coping with the cold here. Also, stay tuned: I’m planning to ask some friends in the TRULY frosty north to share some of their own coping mechanisms.

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Running despite the wintry mix

I almost didn’t go.

I had a big work day with little wiggle room for a leisurely run, and forecasts called for a “wintry mix,” which usually means it’s a good idea to stay inside. Plus, I’m staying with family friends in Annapolis, meaning I couldn’t just go for my tried-and-true 30-minute loop at home. I really almost skipped. But then — and I apologize for going all Oprah on you again — I decided to make myself a priority in my day, and I headed out the door to drive to my intended route.

On my way there, it started to rain. Fabulous.

When I got to the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail, a rails-to-trails path that winds through gorgeous neighborhoods and thick forests, I knew I’d made the right call. I ran 25 minutes out and 25 minutes back on the trail, and I felt SO great! The cold felt refreshing rather than rude; my legs felt fresh after a cross-training day on Tuesday. And best of all, the whole time I was running, the rain was more like snow. Fabulous!


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Braving the cold front (without even meaning to)

My fingers are still numb as I type this. I got back from running two hours ago.

I’d read the weather reports warning that the Groundhog Day warmth that let me bike in shorts and a T-shirt yesterday would give way to February chill by this evening. So I made sure to go running on my lunch break today to take advantage of the early spring weather. I delighted in the fact that the weather let me wear my favorite running digs, a cheap pink Dri-Fit shirt I wore during my marathon and some Brooks running shorts I’m convinced make my butt look smaller. It was so pleasant when I first headed out, I almost laughed out loud.

Once I hit the turnaround point of the 5-mile run, it was the drivers, pedestrians and other passersby who were laughing. They had good reason to. Within minutes, the weather had gone from 60 and sunny to 40 and, as the National Weather Service would put it, “blustery.” No joke: The cold front came through ON MY RUN. And it literally happened at my turnaround point. On my way out, it was all sunshine and light. Once I turned around, though, I could see the dark, nasty storm clouds that had been steadily rolling in behind me.

Worse yet, running home, I was heading into the wind, which I can only guess was coming from the north. As in, like, the Arctic Circle.

It wasn’t just the discomfort, but the humiliation factor that made the rest of the run painful. It’s one thing to show off your pasty legs on the first day of spring, when everyone else is lookin‘ a fool along with you. Today, it was me and my pink short-sleeved shirt against the (appropriately dressed) world. Really, you can’t blame the passersby for laughing.

The sole bright spot: I tried some of the new songs suggested by blog readers. Miami by Will Smith and Walking on Sunshine both made me think of sunnier climes (thanks for the suggestions, Lex and Courtney!).

When I got back home, my fingers were so freezing, I could barely open the mailbox. But when I finally managed to wrangle it open, lo and behold, I’d gotten my newest issue of Runner’s World, as if the running gods were throwing me a big, glossy bone.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to enjoy my magazine with a big cup of tea.

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