Running in the winter can be a grueling aspect that forces many indoors to the comfort of the gym. But for those that want to take things a step further, check out Gear Junkie’s 10 tips for making the cold temperatures that much more tolerable. – Tony
1. ‘Layering’ Doesn’t Work — Sure, dress in layers. (How else would you dress for the cold?) But the theory of “layering” for running — e.g., taking off a jacket or a top while on the run — is pretty much B.S. Unless you are on a long run and wearing a backpack, there isn’t anywhere to put a jacket if you get too warm. My solution? Unzip and vent. And start out cold. It’s easy to dress too heavy at the start and then end up too warm 20 minutes into a run.
2. Hands and Head as Regulators — So layering for the core doesn’t work, as noted above. But for your hands and head, a type of “layering” is manageable and effective. By this I mean you can take gloves and mittens — or a hat — on and off as your body heats up and cools down. Just take them off and stuff them in your pocket. In a mile or two, you may hit a windy stretch, or slow down your pace, etc., and then you can pull the gloves or hat back out and wear it for the remainder of the run back home.
3. Extra Hat — Have a small extra hat or Buff headwear in your pocket at all times. Often I sweat through my hat and then put it in a pocket on the run. Then later, when I am cooling down, I pull out the dry hat to wear. Putting a sweaty, half-frozen skull cap back on is far from pleasant as you cool down toward the end of a run.
4. Grip Your Gloves — In between wearing gloves or mitts and stowing them in a pocket, I often simply grip my gloves in my hands. Balled up and against my palms, the material adds some warmth. I use my hands to regulate my core temp throughout a run, and the grip-the-glove method is one technique when I’m too warm to wear the gloves, but my fingers are freezing with the gloves stowed away. Weird, I know. But it works.
5. Ball Your Fingers — I start many runs with my fingers balled up in a fist inside a pair of thin running gloves. As I heat up, I move my fingers into their places in the gloves. Simple solution.
6. Extremities include “Down There” — This tip is for guys only: You know that extremities are the first things to freeze. This usually applies to fingers and toes, and sometimes ears and noses. But the male anatomy, if not protected, is vulnerable to freezing. I often wear wind-proof boxer briefs under my running tights like Ibex’s Zepher Wind Boxer, which are made of a fine merino wool and have a panel to block wind on the front. If it’s warmer, a normal pair of athletic-cut underwear to add a smidge more insulation and warmth will do.
7. No Hardshell Jackets — Unless it is super harsh outside, I wear a breathable wind-breaker type shell while running. Avoid hardshell or other “waterproof-breathable” jackets. They are too warm and too clammy for all but the worst of days.
8. The Buff — Gear Junkie readers know that the Original Buff, a polyester headwear piece, is one of my favorite pieces of equipment. A Buff really comes into its own in the winter for running. I bring at least two with on each run, including one on my head and one in a pocket as backup. A common technique I employ is to start with the Buff worn as a balaclava and with a small beanie or skull cap over the top. As I heat up on the run, I take off the hat and stow it away. At the same time, I pull the Buff up onto the top of my head, moving it from the balaclava configuration to a floppy hat. I use this technique over and over again. It works!
9. No ‘Cool Down’ Finish — Don’t slow down for the last mile. Keep running strong until you’re back near your home or the start of a run. You will freeze if it’s cold and your sweat is soaking through your base layer on top.
10. Sweat it Out — At home, standing outside my front door at the end of a run, I often remove my hat, gloves and jacket and just “chill out” for a minute or two. Even if it’s 10 degrees F outside, I’ll pause and let my body take a stab at regulating my heat. I finish almost every run — no matter the temp — sweaty and hot. If I step straight indoors after a winter run, the heated air inside is overwhelmingly too hot, and my body sags and sweats as I work to pull off layers and sweat drips on the floor. My advice: Cool down outside. Let the sweat stop. Then head indoors to change clothes, relax, or shower off. After a hard winter run, you deserve it.
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