Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Winter running, or, How Not to Freeze Your Digits Off

It's definitely been a mixed bag with my running this year.

I started out the year with a mileage goal of 1,200 but with a broken ankle, three months off, then another month of rehab, I gave myself permission to put that goal aside and to focus on just getting back to running. I also started the year with a marathon PR and BQ time, only to be crushed in September when I still didn't get in for Boston 2014. I added three more states to my quest to be a 50 Stater, but didn't run a single fall marathon, so Missouri and Oklahoma remain on the undone list.

Through the ups and downs, the elation and frustration, I've learned a lot. Running has been my teacher, my therapist, my upperclassman haze, my fan and my foe this year. It has been my constant when life whirs by at a dizzying and accelerating pace. 

So now that I'm on vacation for the rest of the year, I can kick back, relax, enjoy the holidays and spend quality time with friends and family. Which, obviously, means getting up at 4:45 on my first day off to go run. In the wicked cold. 
Eeeerrrggghhhhhh... According to the local station, the wind chill was actually six degrees. Six. So cold the word only gets three letters and then it freezes. So cold we had our own lake effect fog running across the dam at Lake Fayetteville. So cold we ran faster than we thought we could because we apparently were trying to get done just a little bit faster. Pretty solid this morning with my buddy Jeff:

So how does one go about running in the cold weather?

I'm not going to lie and say it's all in your head. People who say that... well, I think someone needs to examine their head. Because when it's cold, it is COLD. You psyche yourself up and go get it done, but there ain't no getting around the truth of the temperature. I've gotten better at knowing how to dress for runs below 30 degrees - this morning it was a base layer long sleeve Under Armour shirt, my Reebok running tights, Asics running jacket, Sugoi running pants, and wool socks. 

The key piece to successfully running in the cold, though, is the accessories.

#1: protect the digits. Through many, many opportunities for trial and error, I have learned that gloves are not really my friend. I don't know if I have unusually bad circulation or just an usually low tolerance for the cold, but my Asics mittens are the bees knees. On a morning like this, slip a couple of hand warmers in, and boom - no numb fingertips. Santa is my main man, because I get those bad boys in my stocking every year. 

#2: cover the whole head. I have a fleece ear wrap that I love - dual sided, Go Army, Beat Navy. I challenge you to top that. But we all know you lose the most body heat off the top of your head, and when the wind chill matches your youngest child's age, you gotta go skull cap or beanie. I recently commandeered this piece of vintage headwear from Justin's collection:

USMA, rah rah! It looks good when covered with icicles formed from your sweat. You're welcome for that visual. 

#3: if it's exposed, grease it up. Aquaphor is a miracle product. I use it for EVERYTHING, including covering my cheeks, chin, nose, and lips. It doesn't keep me from getting cold, but it does keep me from getting chapped and windburned. And to that effect, I think it does help prevent numbness, at least, because it seems to mitigate the effect of the wind. Which was kickin' on parts of the run today, thankyouverymuch. 

Throw a head lamp in for good measure since we start at 5:15, long before the sun is up, and you're ready to go. Be careful, walk the slick spots on the bridges, keep an eye out for black ice, and then there's only one thing left to do.  


1 comment:

  1. You must run the KC Marathon! Great atmosphere and volunteer support. Plus you get to see our wonderful city :-)