(We are excited to re-post some winter running tips from ultra-marathoner and Sixty Feet Uganda director, Boog Ferrell.)
However little clothing you can stand standing in is how much you should wear while running in the cold. It’s hard to tell exactly what you need on every run, but for fun long runs through the woods, this can work. You may be uncomfortable standing there, but if you can keep from running back to your car screaming like a 5 year old girl – it will suffice. Anymore layering, and you’ll probably regret it later. Now, if you’re going for a shorter, casual run, go ahead and dress like Ralphie’s little brother – whatever floats your boat.
If you can’t tell, this is just a good ol’ fashioned run post…nothing heavy today. Winter running is fun, and living in Uganda working with Sixty Feet, I actually miss the miserableness of 5am 20 degree Fahrenheit runs. In Texas, winter is prime time. It’s more manageable running when its 35 than 105, plus forest visibility is much higher, and the bug/snake activity level is non-existent. I’ve also noticed that most State/Natl. Parks are virtually empty during the winter if its cold at all, so you’ll have the run of the place.
Nueces – 2013 USATF National Trail 50 Mile Championship
So if you’re going to be out in it, be in it to win it. Though Texas’ winters are brief and mild, they can get cold and wet, so here’s my very brief B.O.K. on winter running in the Mid-South & Sunbelt. Let’s start with the gear bag.
- I usually go with Long Sleeve Shirts when its below 55F. My all time favorite is the Patagonia CAP1 Silkweight. These are pretty comfy from 25F to 65F. While jackets are great prep for emergencies, especially running high altitude, they’re just not feasible if there’s any bit of humidity. Get a Pearl Izumi Jacket, pack it in your pack for safety, but enjoy the comfort of a good long sleeve tee (or two if its really cold). Good “non-cotton” layers also really help when it rains. I once tested this and learned from my ignorance. Having a thermal layer will not keep you dry, but it does keep you warmer, wet or dry.
- Mountain Hardwear makes some great comfortable thin glove liners that are solid for running, but honestly, most of the time I would rather tuck my hands into the ends of my sleeves – simple, adjustable, distracting from the pain of being out of shape.
- My rule for wearing tights is 40F, 30F, 20F – Never. Legs have muscles in them doing work while you’re running, and that work makes them warm! Its a free country where you are, so if you dig the tights, great, but for me the winter is the closest I’ll ever get to the running myth of your legs going numb.
- For the head, I always prefer Headsweats race caps. The few times I’ve gone with beanies it’s been a mix of thinner TNF Beanies, UA Skullcaps, or even cut-off sleeves from an old t-shirt (allow heat to vent).
- For shoes, I use the norm (Salomon Speedcross for trail, Saucony ProGrid Ride for road…BTW – I always purchase last years model on Amazon…way cheaper) and I don’t alter my socks (feet warm up too). What I would advise is that this is one time you want to make sure your shoes are not tied too tight, affecting circulation. As long as they’re getting blood flow, your intelligently designed running body will take care of the rest.
Dallas MetroPCS Marathon – 2011
Besides gear, there are other precautions you can take to make winter time a fun time.
- Cold is hard on the body and consequently, makes the body harder in chafe-prone areas. I always suggest extra Body Glide, or my favorite, Moisturizing Chap Stick, when it gets chilly. Carry a stick with you to touch up if need be – no penalties for over protection here.
- Warm up is really key when it gets nippy. I suggest warming up someplace warm. Stretch lightly in your car if you have to. Stay bundled up through the warm up process. My rule is to be sweating before you disrobe and run. My personal pick for warm up attire and pre-race prep is a big fat TNF Hoodie so I can rock some Lecrae #CC2, a cap or beanie, gloves, UA Sweats that I can pull over my running shoes and cup of coffee that I sip very casually. Also, it may be easier to wait until the afternoon for your run because you will be “warmed up” considerably from the day. If its a race, go ahead and get your bib and tag squared away the night before so they can be set under all your warm and fuzziness.
- Food-wise, PB&J’s and Clif Bars just don’t work all that great when they’re frozen. One of my aid station favorites is a big cup of chicken broth and potato slice stew. However, plain noodle soup works great as well. Make sure you drink plenty of water!
- Speaking of water – it can be tough dealing with water when its cold. If you’re toting a hydration pack, there’s a chance your line will freeze, though the bladder is usually close enough to your big motor to keep warm. Bottles usually don’t freeze but, it can be very difficult to squeeze them when your hands turn purple. Gloves can help here, as well as having a place to stash your bottle until you’re ready to drink. But, if all else fails, don’t be ashamed to do the two palm squeeze to get hydrated – been there.
- After the run, a good hot shower (my big treat after a winter long run is to check and see if the handicap accessible shower with the double nozzle set up is empty…try it. Your legs will thank you). After the shower, Neosporin Ointment with Pain Relief for chafed spots and they’ll be better by tomorrow. Also, some good moisturizing lotion for the face and hands because they really take one for the team this time of the year.
Winter Training Run – Tyler State Park – 2011
So, I hope this is helpful. Most of this has been figured out the cold hard way, and it is all my humble opinion, not cold hard fact. My hope is that you will do what works for you, that you’ll live free, and run well. While you’re doing so, you might as well bring HOPE and RESTORATION to #VulnerableChildren by running with a Run Sixty Feet team. Click here to find a race/team near you.