winter solstice and cold weather running

Today might be the first day of winter, officially, but as far as I'm concerned, winter has been here for several weeks already. Last night we had about 4" of snow piled on top of what was there already, which was considerable. If you ask me, the best part about the Winter Solstice is that little by little we'll start to see the sun again. The lack of daylight has really been getting to me the last couple of weeks.

In fact, the bitter cold, snow-packed streets and 4:30 sunsets have nearly ended my running regime for the winter. Some people may enjoy running outdoors when it's pitch-black and your nose is so cold it aches and you risk slipping and breaking a limb on a patch of ice, but I am not one of those people. Since getting back into running a couple of years ago, I've just come to accept that I'll have to take a hiatus in the winter. I've never liked to do that, since come springtime, that makes getting back into a routine that much more difficult. But I always figured there wasn't another option.

This year, I'm trying something new: I'm sucking it up and running in the cold. I have Stuart's determination to thank for this, really. For so long he was plagued with so many running injuries (most of them minor, all of them bad enough that he'd have to quit running for this or that reason to recover) that nothing - not rain or sleet or snow or frigid temperatures - will keep him from running now that he is healthy enough to do so. He's like the USPS that way. Well. If he can do it, so can I. (I might have a tiny little competitive streak...)

Now, understand that I am no great distance runner. My favorite route is a 4-mile loop. I'm not fast and I don't particularly care. I have no interest in racing. I run because I like it, and because it's healthy. (And also because I can't stand working out in a gym.)

Anyway, it turns out that with the proper clothing, cold weather running really isn't so bad. Last weekend I went out when it was about 15 degrees, and I wore a silk balaclava, a wool hat, a tank top under a running shirt under a fleece jacket, silk long johns under stretchy running pants, and mittens. I actually got hot and had to take the fleece jacket off less than 2 miles after I started.

As for the ice and snow, Stuart and I have discovered a wonderful product: yaktrax! They're like snow tires for your shoes. Stuart picked up some over the weekend, and since we can never go running together, we're just sharing the pair. On Sunday, I chose a running route that was all snow and ice, just to see what it was like...and it was okay. For distances longer than a mile or two, wearing Yaktrax will take some getting used to. Still, it's better than nothing!


Pam said…
Wow - those yaktrax look awesome! I ran outside through the whole winter for one year when I lived in Rochester, NY and the thing I remember vividly about it was that it made winter way less cold for me. I loved that feeling of not even needing a jacket and even enjoying the brisk air while everybody else was freezing his/her butt off. But in subsequent years, in Boston, for example, I had trouble finding a good gravel path that was plowed in the winter. Too bad I didn't have Yaktrax!!
Andrea said…
I love my yaktrax! But do you wear those with minimalist shoes, or have you reverted to a bulkier shoe for winter? it seems like the minimalist shoes would be too cold for winter here...
Steph said…
Well, if it ever snows again here, I'm going to get these. Awesome.

I love winter running. It's all about having the right base layers. If you have good tights (or silk long johns, apparently) and technical long-sleeved shirt, it's almost fun to pile the other layers on top and then strip them off as you warm up. (Of course, I know you're talking about a whole different realm of cold than we're getting down here.)

I knit myself a hat with ponytail hole in it just for running. And yesterday I got to go running with a friend's Siberian Husky!! I felt very primal.
Suze said…
Andrea, I wear trail shoes when it's below about 35 degrees. I just got some Inov8 ones from Berkley this fall, and I like them fine. Stuart runs in aqua socks (pool shoes), believe it or not, when the weather gets cold. It works fine for him!

Steph, I think with a silk layer from head to ankle, plus another layer on top, I'd be fine running down to just a few degrees above zero. Not sure about the minus temps, though...

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