Roots: Grounding your running, mindfulness, health and wellness
Running outside in the winter is tough, its cold, windy, slippery and sometimes just plain miserable… Your water freezes, your hands go numb and you have an ice cream headache just from the wind.
Fortunately there are ways to run outside and reduce/eliminate many sources of this winter suffering and that is where Issue 2 is going to take us.
Running when its cold outside is all about wearing the appropriate layers of clothes for the conditions of the day. Common mistakes include overdressing, under dressing, and wearing un-breathable layers. These mistakes can leave you too warm, too cold, or just plain cold and sweaty.
So lets dive in with some suggestions from the head down. Now theses are just suggestions and everyone’s temperature comfort zone is different, so adapt what helps you and leave out what doesn’t.
For a typical day for me a find a buff (head wrap) around my ears is plenty and it allows for great ventilation for the top of head so you don’t over heat, however as the mercury dips below -10C I generally switch to a toque and use the buff as a secondary layer to provide extra protection for my ears and my face. For the hat it’s important that you choose a breathable fabric that allows for good ventilation or your find yourself overheating and becoming uncomfortable.
Now when its colder that -20 and the wind is howling you should take some extra precautions. You can use some Vaseline to help protect you cheeks from the cold wind, or even better a neoprene ski mask with vent holes for breathing. The ski mask also help warm the air you are breathing before you breath it in making higher output activities easier on your lungs at these freezing temperatures.
If its real nasty out and your feeing brave, the last piece of gear that helps is ski goggles. When it’s windy and snowy or haling and you’d still rather get your run in outdoors than on the treadmill these are a life saver.
In the winter I more often that not wear a windbreak layer, this is essential to block that bitter cold wind and will keep you warmer. Winter cycling jackets work great for this, or even just a shell windbreaker that you would layer in the summer. Underneath you can layer appropriately for the day.
Keep in mind that you want breathable moisture wicking layers. On really cold days I start with a thermal moisture wicking warm base layer (my go to is my Helly Hansen lifa), and layer another breathable mid weight long sleeve on top. On more moderate days I will start with a “dry” rather than a “warm” base layer.
If your layers are not breathable and moisture wicking you will find that as you heat up you will sweat, and instead of staying warm your sweat will accumulate and will make you cold.
Many a runner will be out for a winter run, layered perfectly but there hands end up freezing. Running gloves are often very light weight and for me unless I’m doing high intensity interval training they just don’t cut it for me when it’s below -10. The solution that has worked best for me has been cycling mittens. They are warm, breathable and have a wind break layer. You could also try out some lighter weight ski gloves or mitts. Don’t suffer with frozen hands when you can fix the problem easily. You can also use hand warmers to help as well!
There are many great lined tights out there for running, but where a lot of them fall short is in breaking the wind. I can’t speak for the ladies, but I know it can get pretty uncomfortable down there when it’s windy and cold.
Again I find either cycling or cross country ski gear has done it right here. You need to find lined tights (or looser cross country ski or alpine pants) which are meant for high output activities and vent well, but the have the all important windbreak fabric on the whole front of the legs. When that’s still not enough, double up on the underwear!
I’ve never had too many issues with the comfort of my feet in the winter. I’ll typically just use a slightly thicker sock and my feet stay warm enough all on their own. The problem arises in wet slushy conditions, deep snow or slippery ice.
There are some running shoes out there like the Altra Lone Peak Neo Shell and the Solomon Snow cross which are waterproof and are great in these conditions, but they come at a premium. You can always waterproof an old pair of shoes with some scotch guard as a more economical solution.
For most sloppy conditions I find switching up my road shoes for trail shoes can help provide some extra traction in the snow and slush. This extra grip however is still useless when it comes to ice!
Some shoes like the Solomon Snowcross come pre studded for extra traction on the ice (you pay for it though!). However, you can take that old pair of shoes and stud them yourself with some sheet metal screws as shown in this video ( DIY studding your shoes ) for a dollar or two in a few simple steps.
The winter can be a harsh environment for running and other outdoor activities, but if you prepare properly your time outdoors during this season can be a lot more enjoyable!
So that’s a rap for ISSUE 2. If you enjoyed it please let us know in the comments. Share this with someone you think could find this useful and Subscribe so you can get our next News Letter. Also let us know if there are topics which you would like to see discussed in future issues.