It's been a week of recovering from jet lag and trying to get used to runs in sub-zero temperatures. The other morning it was -5 degrees – yes that's right, 5 below zero Fahrenheit – when I headed out the door for my morning run. Usually it takes about 10 minutes to feel warmed up, but on this particular morning it was more like 20 minutes and I only logged 45 minutes total. I was cursing the cold and my stupidity for going out doors when I could have hopped on my wind trainer and watched the Today show in comfort.
This leads me to sharing thoughts on dressing for the cold. Of utmost importance is to keep my head, feet, and hands warm. This does not mean I discount my legs, torso, and arms, but without the head, toes, and hands feeling warmth there is no way I'll be able to keep the rest of me toasty on winter runs. Layering is key. Choosing the right fabric is important. A wicking product next to the skin makes good sense. Who wants to be wet and sweaty on a chilly morning? If it is really cold, another wicking product as layer number two is advised followed by a good wind breaking jacket. For the legs a snug pair of tights covered by a pair of wind breaking pants works well on the really cold days (like sub zero) and on the not-as-cold runs, a single pair of loose-fitting tights works well. Select a good pair of socks. Again, a wicking material like that in Dry Max, SmartWool, or Injinji socks are good examples. I prefer a thinner sock, but without some moisture control a lightweight sock means cold feet and toes and the prospect of frostbite. For the hands, gloves on most days and mittens if it is really chilly. I find myself taking my fingers out of my gloves and balling them up into fists if they get really cold in the gloves. A good argument for just wearing mittens in the first place. Gloves or mittens are great for wiping a runny nose which is common during the winter.
Lately I have been wearing a combination of a headband or hat and a balaclava-type neck warmer. The neck warmer really makes a difference in keeping in some much-needed heat. And, because we have quite a bit of snow, the reflection dictates that I wear a pair of sunglasses. Most of the time I wear shades with a very light colored tint to the lenses.
For my faithful companion Rylee – my six-year-old English Setter pictured right – who often times enjoys playing in the snow rather than paying attention to the job at hand, ie: running – I have tried to find a good pair of booties. Booties would certainly mitigate the time spent picking balls of snow and ice out of his paws. Most people with dogs probably encounter this same predicament. I have tried a few different paw coverings without success and think the type with neoprene coverings and Velcro straps would work the best. Of course most dogs are like Rylee, they will vigorously wag their tails and whine the minute you get your running shoes on in the hopes that they will not be left home while you go out for some exercise. They have no concern for the weather or the inevitability of snow-laden paws.
Whatever the conditions, be safe on the snowy and ice-covered trails or on muddy, rain-soaked single track for those of you in the warmer climes and pay attention to the needs of your four-legged friends.
Happy trails, Nancy.