With the weather officially cool in the midwest it is important to dress the part else you may not actually get out the door or last very long once you are out there. Getting out the door is the hardest part. I always tell myself-Go at least a mile. If you want to come back after that, then do so. I’ve never came back yet.
I know from numerous outdoor runs throughout the winter that dressing appropriately helps ensure you have a successful and comfortable run. I love running outside throughout the winter although I was not always big on this. Years ago I didn’t dress appropriately and therefore never went more than a few miles outdoors in the winter. Miles on the treadmill and around an indoor 2OO meter track only hold a person’s interest for so long. After training for my first marathon mostly on a treadmill for the first two months I knew I couldn’t keep doing that forever. It was then that I began to reevaluate winter running outdoors. If I ever wanted to run more than five miles outside, then I’d have to change my attire.
Modern technology in running attire has made it possible to wear minimal layers and still stay warm. The first mile is always a warming up time and one should expect to be chilled to cold. Once the body warms up though you will be thankful for the lighter layers not holding you down and causing you to get cold from sweat. So how do I dress for winter weather…well, it is extremely individual. As I’ve gotten more experienced as a runner, I’ve found I need fewer layers to stay warm. I find no matter how often I run outdoors in races versus long slower runs, etc I still struggle with exactly what to wear on a run, but I follow these general guidelines for dress:
40-45=capris, t-shirt, and a medium weight long sleeve shirt
35-40=pants or running tights (Road Runner Sports has awesome tights), t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, and a headband
25-35=running tights, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, and light jacket OR
t-shirt and heavy/warm jacket or shirt, hat and gloves
15-25=thermal/thicker running tights (love my Nike thermal tights), t-shirt, thermal/thicker long sleeve shirt, jacket (love Lulu again), hat, and gloves
-15-15=thin running tights with running pants over top, t-shirt, thermal long sleeve, jacket, hat, and gloves/mittens
If it is much below zero, I generally run inside or don’t run. A great website I’ve used to decide how to dress is from Runner’s World-What to Wear.
Last year I trained for the Rock n’ Roll Arizona Marathon throughout the Wisconsin winter doing all my runs outside except for my speed work sessions. It is impossible to run fast on slippery and snowy roads and sidewalks, so I brought that workout to the gym on a treadmill. All of my other runs were done outside. My first 20 miler came two days after we got 20 inches of snow and had school cancelled for two days in a row. I still went out dressed appropriately, ran at a slower pace, and put one foot in front of the other. The wipeout that had me sliding on my belly only deterred me for a couple of blocks. Had I worn my Yaktraxs that wouldn’t have happened.
This year I will be wearing my Yaktraxs fo show. My ankle is still recovering. I only wear heels a few times a week. When I wear them I can feel my ankle hurting although it is not a hurt hurting. It still swells after days on my feet, heel wearing, or after long runs. I am just so grateful it doesn’t really bother me while running.
During the winter months don’t be afraid or frustrated that your pace is slower. Running on snow and ice is similar to running on a beach; your muscles work much harder to maintain your balance. Running a slower pace on a harder terrain can still mean faster on an easier terrain. Take my PR in Arizona as proof. Those of you who live in Cali or elsewhere without snow, ice, and sleet-well just be glad. I will hate you all in February.
Better yet, let winter be your maintenance miles. Stay in shape and enjoy the holiday treats without the guilt. Run to holiday tunes (a future post coming on that) and the holiday lights. Run for fun. Find a turkey trot or jingle bell run to motivate you.
When dressed appropriately you can run all winter long and enjoy it.