Winter running is challenging. There are more things to consider than just looking at the temperature. One also needs to consider things like is any precipitation? Is the wind blowing? If so, how strong is it? What is the temperature? Is there any ice? and so on.
The first rule of winter running to learn is layering! The layer closest to your body needs to be of a material that can wick the moisture away from your body as you run. There is nothing worse than have sweat freezing to your body while you are running. The outer layer needs to protect you from the wind/wind chill and repel moisture, which means Gore-Tex or something like it. Depending on the temps, a third middle layer of fleece could be added to help insulate the body. Air trapped between the layers help to keep you warm. The rule of thumb is to dress for 20 minutes into the run – which is when the body is warm. Never over dress or your body will overheat and you will be miserable!
Always cover your head, hands and feet. As much as 40% of your body heat can be lost through your head and up to 30% through hands and/or feet. A lightweight and moisture wicking pair of gloves help to keep your hands warm and dry! If it is really cold, mittens are a better choice as your fingers will be close together and share the heat! A light weight hat helps keep the head warm and either 2 pairs of light weight socks or an extra thick pair of running socks for the feel and your are set! I have found that the lightweight hats I have gotten from some of the races I have run work well. They are thermalite and work well for keeping the ears warm!
I really enjoy running in the colder temps. It is more exhilarating and sometimes exciting. Yesterday my run was very interesting and not because of the cooler temps, but because the trails were not in the best condition. The temps were rather mild, at least for Minnesota, about 15 degrees, which was warmer than the polar dash on New Year’s Day! The trails have a substantial layer of ice, but there is enough snow pack on top to give one fairly solid footing! The hardest thing to deal with was the fact that most of the trails were not totally plowed. I could run half way down the street and then the path was totally blocked. This lead to some backtracking to find a good spot to get on the street and run on the street until I could get back on the trail In some places it was actually safer to run on the street – no ice! After 4 miles of on and off trail running, I finally decided to head home. I was inches away from cars on the street and the ice/snow combination was not easy to navigate.
I consider the 40-50 minute run good, given the conditions. My goal for this month is mainly just to gain some conditioning. Marathon training starts 01 Feb! I want to head into that training in the best shape that I can be in – given the conditions Minnesota has at the moment. At least this time, I will have a training partner – Caleb is also running the marathon although he runs faster than I do on a minute/mile pace. But at least there will be someone to push me out the door on those cold and snowy days!