Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Running Survival Tips (or, look like a ninja while running)

Is it Sunday evening already? The weekends always fly by, even when there isn't much going on. Sadly, I was supposed to visit my friend Nicole in Long Island this weekend, but the alleged storm of the century brought those plans to a screeching halt.

Nicole and I on her wedding day, October 12, 2008

So, instead of a fun-filled weekend of pedicures, afternoon tea at the Garden City Hotel (to relive our afternoon tea we had in London) and other various activities, I ended up partaking in one of my new favorite things- running outside in the freezing cold. Okay that may be a tad sarcastic, but running outside in upstate New York (or any other frozen tundra) is surprisingly doable, so long as you have the right gear.

What do you need to run in the cold? I'm talking extreme cold (well, extreme to me) like 17 degrees but feels like 4 with the windchill cold. The most important thing that I've learned is the importance of layering. I start with a basic moisture wicking cold gear shirt from under armour.

As you want your core to remain warm, a puffy vest or other top layer will ensure that you don't freeze. I generally wear my lightweight northface jacket or a fleece. I like the northface jacket because if I get to hot on the run (which can happen), I can always adjust the zipper to get comfortable.

For my legs, I wear a pair of running tights, which I initially thought would do the job on their own. They certainly do in forty degree weather, but not so much when it's bone chilling cold out. To compensate, I layer on a pair of fleece lined running pants (under armour has a great pair that I just bought- expensive but super comfortable!)

I don't know about you, but my hands are always freezing. Gloves are essential. However, I'm learning that not just any glove will do. On my three mile run yesterday (temperature was a balmy 20 degrees plus windchill) I wore my under armour gloves (for the record, I have no affiliation with under armour, although I may as well buy some stock in their company) that have a sort of moisture wicking fabric and grabby material (technical term) on the fingers, which I like because it allows me to change the music on my iTouch. However, my hands were NUMB at the end of my run yesterday. As in, I tried to sit on them to warm them up and could not feel them numb. So, it looks like I may have to invest in a pair of fleece thinsulate gloves.

Of course, you can't forget your head. My saving grace for these cold weather runs has been my cold gear hood, which can be worn a variety of ways. For the true ninja look, you can go all out and wear the hood over your head and the mask portion over your mouth/nose. I start out wearing it kind of like a scarf (read: no hood) with the mask covering my nose, until I feel warm enough to take the mask over my face (usually about a half mile into the run). To keep my ears warm, I wear a fleece headband around my ears.


With the above mentioned gear, running outside in the cold weather is definitely manageable. It is actually quite invigorating to run out in the cold weather. Plus, the strange looks you get from people driving by in their warm cars is priceless. It makes me feel hardcore, even though I am far from it. I would still balk at the idea of running in a blizzard, which my fiance has been known to do ;) For those of you that are hardcore enough to actually run in/on the snow, I've heard that yaktraks are great for that.

Lastly, make sure that you stay hydrated while cold weather running. Even though it is cold, your body is still working hard and you still sweat!


In other news, today marks day one of my training for the Virginia is for Lovers 14k! My schedule called for crosstraining, so I did 35 minutes on the elliptical machine. I will close out the evening by doing yoga for runners. Have a great evening!


  1. I'm trying to get the gloves situation under control, too. I wore gloves that were too thin on Sat and then gloves that were too thick and made my hands sweat on Sun. Neither pair was ideal!

    Good luck!

  2. So strange about the gloves. maybe its just you? My Isotoners work awesome! You should borrow them and run to see if they work before buying them. They have never given me a problem and always keep me warm. So funny about the people driving by. I love it to! They think i am crazy! I dont mind running in the cold but i HATE the wind! I am warm all over except my face. Its hard to wrap my face with a scarf while i am sweating and trying to breathe. Its not too bad once you get going but I hate all the layers. I would much rather run in shorts. BTW, hideous flowers! HAHAH