Smutty Fitness: Winter Running
I started running this past spring and wouldn’t you know it, it’s much more enjoyable outdoors than being stuck on a treadmill. My question for you is how do I transition from a wonderful outdoor summer running experience to a brutally cold (Edmonton) winter one? As you may know our winters can last a few months longer than the rest of the country and in the past we’ve had month long cold snaps of -30 (though I’m keeping my fingers crossed we won’t have that problem this year) so what kind of gear would you suggest to keep myself from getting frost bite, and skating along the trails instead of running?
Nothing is worse than a winter spent stuck inside on a treadmill as you end up feeling like a hamster on a wheel come spring. Being from Vancouver I am lucky that our winter temperatures do not drop below -5 on most days, however I am not sure if the rain we have to run in is better or worse than the cold.
The key to staying warm on the coldest of days is layering your clothing with technical fabrics that can wick the moisture off of your skin into the air around you. Your first layer should be a technical, light-weight singlet that fits you snug and can wick the moisture off of your skin. This will ensure that your skin stays dry and a snug fit will eliminate any risks of chafing. I love merino wool as it keeps you dry and warm however some people can find it itchy against their skin.
Over the singlet you should layer a warm, loose fitting, long sleeved running shirt that will wick moisture away while at the same time prevent your body from losing too much heat. Any wicking fabric will do and I prefer a technical fleece.
The outer layer should be a wind breaking jacket which will wick away moisture. You do not want this jacket to be too snug fitting so make sure when you are shopping for one you are wearing similar clothing that you will be running in. If the jacket fits too tight it can affect the moisture wicking capabilities of your other two layers. Also, stay away from waterproof as it will lack breathability, causing all of the moisture you are wicking away to remain stuck inside the jacket. This is a great option as it will keep you warm and the reflectivity will make sure you are seen on those dark nights.
Your legs are not as important as your core to keep warm (as they do not lose as much heat) so choose a longer running tight with a brushed lining. You may want to invest in a pair of extra warm tights though for the coldest of days and a pair of these will not only keep you warm but will also protect you from the wind.
To keep your hands warm, opt for running mittens rather than gloves. Although this will make it more difficult to use your smart phone, your hands will thank you as the heat you release from your fingers will stay trapped inside the mittens.
A running toque is a must when braving the cold winter days but on the coldest of days you may even want to opt for a balaclava. And keep your lips protected from the wind and the cold by applying a generous layer of Vaseline to them, ensuring that you pack extra with you so you can reapply.
On your feet wear a thicker technical running sock that will wick moisture away and invest in a pair of Yaktrax to attach to your shoes for icy days. I don’t mind running in the cold or the rain but ice is dangerous so a pair of these will protect you.
Most importantly, strip out of your wet clothes as soon as you finish your run as your core temperature will immediately drop post run and you are going to freeze. Have something warm that is available to change into immediately.
Remember that you will warm up while you are running so give yourself some time out on the streets before you decide it is too cold and you turn around. But on those -30 days, a treadmill might just be the best option.