Saturday, January 9, 2016

--- Winter Running Essentials ---

Today was a day in my personal running history.

Today, I ran in REALLY COLD conditions. 

And survived!!

Ok, so not earth shattering news but in my record book, I'm pretty dang proud of myself. I've always been a mediocre runner. Ran during the warm months, did a few summer races and then hung up my running shoes for the winter once the first snow fell.

But lately, that's changed. These last few weeks I've done more runs below 40° than I ever have and today I knew was going to be a tough day with the forecast showing a high of 15°. I am honestly a huge wuss when it comes to the cold and have been known to stay in my house for a week at a time without leaving because I hate the cold that much. Lately, I've been really trying to push myself and live outside my comfort zone so it was only natural to force myself to go give a "cold run" a chance and see how I felt while out there on the roads.

Well, it really wasn't that bad after all. I mean yes, I was cold, yes I didn't want to be out there, but guess what... I survived! 

I wanted to share with you what works for me when I go running in cold conditions. I know a lot of my followers often ask how I stay warm so I figured it'd be just easier to write up a quick post.

Winter running is all about layering!!

I normally wear at least two layers and sometimes three if the wind is really blowing. Today I kinda stuck with my two normal layers but added some extras due to the excessive cold that I knew I wasn't going to be used to. Lemme break the layers down for ya:

Layer 1 - I usually wear a tank under just a half zip or thermal shirt but today I work my Under Armor heart gear long sleeved shirt. It keeps me extremely warm so I don't usually layer it with much. I also wore my favorite trusty Nike Pro Dri-Fit thermal lined leggings. These are hands down my favorite pair to wear in the winter and totally worth the expense. I've got a few other brands of thermal lined leggings but I always resort to these when I know I need the extra warmth. Then, I wear just normal Nike active cotton socks. (Just one pair, my feet usually stay pretty warm on their own without needing to double up on socks)

After I squeeze into those goodies I usually go stretch and make sure everything is ready to go run. Once I get my second layer on I'm pretty warm and don't want to spend much more time in the house after that ;) 

Layer 2 - Next up is the thicker layers usually. I threw on my Nike FitDry thermal lined half zip today. Normally, I reach for my hooded thermal wear but since I knew I was planning on wearing my scarf/wrap I wasn't too worried about my neck getting hit with cold air. Then I layer over my leggings with a pair of Under Armor regular legging/tights. Nothing special about them, I've actually owned them since high school and still love them. Basically, the second layer just helps wick off the wind and keep some warmth on me. Then I lace up my running shoes. Usually I'm in just Brooks or Nike's but today I was excited that I got to try out my old Nike Shox. A few years ago I put some sheet metal skrews into a pair of older running shoes to help with snowy runs and after yesterdays slippery run I decided I could really use the extra traction. 

Now I'm slipping on my shoes to head out the door, I'm really warm and trying to give myself a positive pep talk about how much fun I'll have once I get going. Then I throw on my last minute necessities and get my gps tracker and heart rate monitors started.

Layer 3 - Accessories! The final bundling layer is about accessories and what "works" best for you. I have really been into my puffy vest this winter, it keeps my core warm which is a big factor on my attitude and total body warmth while out on the run. I typically reach for my armband to hold my phone but come summer I also enjoy my flipbelt as well. Today I ran with my new Under Armor heat gear gloves that were gifted to me by my bestie and also included some hand warmers as well in hopes it'd solve my "freezing fingers" issues but it didn't. (That's the one thing on my body that I can never seem to keep warm? Any tips/advice?) I decided to give my scarf/bandana a try that I got from StrideBox awhile back. It's a multi-use stretchy one that can be used as a headband, neck scarf, arm wrap or even a face mask so I figured it'd be nice to test it out as a face mask. I totally think it was my make or break for that run! The final necessity is my ear warmers, today I used my lovely Brooks one I bought awhile back. This layer really varies on the run and temps. If it's snowy or rainy I almost always opt for my Nike hat, it drives me nuts to have stuff flying into my eyes while dodging potholes. Other days I feel like I need a regular beanie style hat, just depends on my mood.

So, there they are. My winter running essentials and explanations on why I love them.

Today's run was tough, when I took off the wind was with me so the first half of the run was fine. I started getting used to "breathing" through the face mask when I ran in an open patch and felt the wind pick up. Then came my turning point and I had to run against the wind. 

It. Killed. Me.

The wind was what made me want to run faster just to get home and out of the cold. That windchill will really ruin a run. I've ran in 20°ish weather before but with the windchill I realized just how much colder it can feel. Today the temperature was 13° but with the wind chill it said it was -1° out. I was prepared for cold, but I deff wasn't prepared for the wind that was blowing 18mph with it. I stopped for a second only to feel my face mask was stiffening up due to my moist air pushing through it. That's when my fingers started going number and my face started really burning. 

I can handle cold, I can push through the frozen fingers feelings, but I cannot do the cold face thing. Once my face burns I quit. That's when mentally, I start breaking down and planning the fastest route back home. I tried so hard and did finish my run without bailing but it's a learning curve with cold weather running. It's something I'll have to practice and learn to get tougher with.

Today's run wasn't epic nor a personal best for my pace. 

But today I ran with courage to not give up. 

Today, I ran to prove to myself that I'm a little bit tougher than I thought I was.

Part of being a runner is having a stubborn "I won't quit" attitude and today, that's the only thing that keep me going.


How do you do cold winter runs? Any fun winter gear or gadgets I should try?! Send me your tips/tricks/advice! Happy running fellow hardcore runner buddies!

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