Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Running in the Snow

Okay, so I live a bit closer to Frostbite Falls than I’d like some days, and I’ve done two cold-weather runs so far, so clearly I’m an expert and I thought I should write a blog post about it.

(Well, okay, it’s mostly that our blog has a whopping 1 post on it so far. But I digress.)

First, let’s define ‘cold.’ Normally, apparently, anything under 40 degrees F is considered cold. Yeah, um . . . two of the three races I did this year had starting temperatures below 40--in April and October. It was 25 degrees Fahrenheit when I left on my run on Sunday morning, and 12 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday.

(Runs With Butter complains when it’s under 60, but I digress. Again.)

So for both the 25-degree run and the 12-degree run, I wore cold-weather tights (from Sport Hill; they were cheap at, a long-sleeved wicking shirt, a soft-shell-type jacket with a hood, regular socks, trail shoes, and gloves. It . . . was almost enough. I probably needed another pair of pants, because I ended up finishing my run due to being cold in places I’d rather not name.

(Well, okay. My butt was cold. This is a running blog, after all. I can talk about my butt. In this context, at least.)

Anyway, here’s how it went down:

  • I almost turned an ankle about four or five times because snow, even an inch or two of it, isn’t pavement. Trail runners will probably be okay with that, but I apparently don’t do enough trail running, even though I do all my running in trail shoes. (Yes, it wears down the lugs. No, I don’t care, because I have a second pair just in case I need to run on an actual trail.)
  • My lungs, which are sort of a train wreck in general (ask me about The Bronchitis That Wouldn’t Quit of Winter 2008-9), actually did wonderfully well. No coughing! Well, no more than usual.
  • My face warmed up after about half a mile, or five or so minutes. Apparently a half hour isn’t long enough to make it cold again. I’ll have to experiment to see how long it takes.
  • Speaking of, I was running significantly faster than expected. I can’t tell you my exact time, but I left at 4:33, dithered a bit and walked to the end of the block (50 or so feet), ran 2.56 miles, came back, checked the mail, and went inside, where it was 5:01. I’m estimating that I managed to waste about 2 minutes doing things that weren’t running, so 2.56 miles in 26 minutes, or a 10:09 pace. Just to put this in perspective, my last 5K was at a 10:34 pace. As I put in my dailymile log, Cold-weather speedwork?
  • I either need to suck it up and buy longer socks (i.e., not the quarter-cut) or buy or knit a pair of legwarmers. There’s a point of weakness between the bottom of my tights and the top of my socks, even though they kind of overlap.

Anyway, the end result of this is that I’m not really afraid of running in cold weather anymore. So, assuming that there’s anyone reading this (hello-o-o-o-o? guess not.) who is dithering about whether to run outside this winter or not, I’m highly recommending at least trying it. Even if you don’t think you have enough gear, just throw on everything you have and go out for a mile or so. Have fun! Experiment! Try science!

(Um, if you get frostbite, though, don’t blame me. Be sensible. Also check with your physician, etc.)

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