Cold Weather Running Checklist
Cold Weather = Treadmill? No!
Winter is quickly approaching. For many running enthusiasts, this means running on a treadmill indoors. However, with a little preparation, the right equipment and proper clothing, you can easily continue to enjoy fresh air during your winter time runs.
You're probably asking, "why would I want to run in the cold?"
- People who exercise outdoors have a more abundant source of fresh oxygen than those cooped up in that sweaty cesspool of bacteria that we call "the gym".
- It really is beautiful when it's the perfect temperature (-5 and -15) and it just snowed outside. There's a poetic significance of being the first person to lay tracks on freshly fallen snow. The "crunch-crunch" sound of your spikes as you march through your run at a relentless pace is a reassuring, satisfying sound that promises good health and improved strength.
- The interesting phenomenon of being able to control your temperature through movement... to cold? run faster. To hot, slow down. Magical
- You get to see fox, bunnies and sometimes deer if you run near certain parts of the 'burbs (unfortunately 'skunk' also makes this list).
- You'll be BADASS! You will be perceived as a warrior to your peers and inspire them to be better, not to be hindered by something as trivial as the weather. You will be a beacon of hope to those who want to run in the winter but are afraid of what others will think. You will be a force to be reckoned with come springtime when the honey bears come out of hibernation all slow and rusty. You will rock!
Advantages are also present on a very spiritual level. The peaceful isolation you will feel when running in the cold at wintertime is both a very meditative isolation, yet one which will be over at the end of your 5 or 10 kilometer run, therefore an isolation you can easily cut short if need be. Many ideas and projects have been born and developed during my winter runs. The mind is lulled into a quiet place where the troubles of the day are a distant priority to the current mechanical needs of the body.
The body is simply doing what it has evolved to do so perfectly over millions of years of hunting, traveling, and fleeing danger.
This marriage of mind and body make for a peaceful soul.
Proper Clothing and Special Equipment
"I tried running last winter but my nipples got really cold and hard so I had to stop, besides,i couldn't feel my legs and ass because of the cold"
Silly unprepared runner, you should not attempt to run in the winter unless you have the right equipment and clothing!
Here's a list of things you may find helpful for cold weather runs:
- Skull cap: Most of the heat you will lose will be from your head. By wearing a light neoprene skull cap you can prevent this source of heat loss. However, you shouldn't over do it because to much of a good thing can be very detrimental to your health. The last thing you want to happen is having a hat or tuque that will cause you to overheat and sweat excessively. Start thin and work your way warmer. You will soon be able to judge which headgear to wear for which level of cold.
- Face and Neck Protection: Another vulnerable area to be considered is the face and neck. There are many options for this area. There's the famous Bole scarf which has many different configurations. There are also neoprene face shields which while work very well, may cause you to fog up your glasses.
- Running jacket: Not to warm, not to cool, trial and error will get the jacket weight just right. I find that a jacket that keeps in the heat just a little with a wind resistant outer shell will keep you warm even on the coldest of days while running. Your body temperature rises while running, if your jacket can retain this heat, you'll never be cold. Sometimes you'll find yourself unzipping your collar by a few inches to cool down a little! The worse thing is a jacket that is to warm. You will sweat to much and feel cold and clammy before the end of your run.
- Base Layer: A merino wool base layer will do wonders for temperature control during a sub-zero run. This magical fabric keeps you warm by wicking sweat and moisture away from your skin. Cotton was once used for this purpose but was deemed inferior to wool because cotton tends to keep moisture at the skin's surface making for a clammy cold feeling athlete.
- Gloves: Much like a running jacket, winter runners can also benefit from thinner insulated gloves. However, when the mercury drops to below -15°C I will cover those gloves with a pair of fuzzy wool mitts. Hey, I already look crazy running outside in -15°C weather.... who's gonna notice the stupid looking mitts? All I know is that my hands are warm!
- Traction aids: Depending on precipitation, there may be snow, ice, black ice, and ice hidden by snow that will try and slip you up and break you. I use 'Due North Everyday G3 Ice and Snow Traction Aid'. These are wonderful little devices that stretch over your current shoe, embedded in the rubber frame are hard metal spikes that grip any surface while running. There are two drawbacks to this product, 1. I f you use them on asphalt/concrete to much you can wear out the spikes prematurely(however there are replacement spikes available) 2. By adding this item to your winter running arsenal, you effectively eliminate any excuse from going running in the winter time.
- Visibility aids: Let's face it. Drivers in automobiles are stupid, and dangerous. Winter drivers are even more dangerous. Often times a driver's visibility will be reduced by ice and fog on their vehicle's windows. The icy conditions may also present them with longer stopping distances that they may not have accounted for... Let's help the drivers see us by wearing reflective safety vests and blinking led lights when the sun goes down.
I hope you enjoy your runs. I also hope you are careful if running solo. Have a plan at hand in case something goes wrong. Always have a fully charged cell phone in case you need a rescue lift due to injury or extreme weather. Always carry identification, and a debit card.
Let family, friends, and loved ones know of your adventures and when you should be expected to return. They should be happy to look out for trouble and will encourage you to check in with them every so often. If they not willing to help then you might need a better entourage of people.
Get a road ID bracelet. This bracelet communicates info about yourself to a rescuer. Your name, city of residence and phone numbers of people to contact in case of emergency, perhaps even medical or allergy information.
I have also seen an interesting defense product that is worn like a ring and enhances the fist with sharp points that can seriously injure an attacker. The company is called Go Guarded. The biggest advantage for this product is that it is instantly ready to go. There is no time lost fumbling in a funny pack(such is the case for pepper spray devices). The attacker will have less of a chance to immobilize you while you jab him with your go guarded spike.
Perhaps self defense courses for those who feel vulnerable or would be attractive targets to 'low-life douche-bags'. In today's day and age, you could never be to safe.
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