Gear Up for Winter Weather
Winter running is a beast of its own. Knowing how to gear up for winter can make or break your chances of getting out the door and enjoying yourself on the coldest of days, yet many people aren't quite sure where to start. Jake and Rachel are here with information on their favorite gear, training modifications, and best tips to get you through this snowy season!
What gear can you not live without?
Having the proper gear is essential to making winter running a more enjoyable experience.
Shoes-I stockpiled some Saucony Razor Ice that have a built-in gaiter to prevent snow from getting in and heat from getting out. I will have to find a new winter shoe once I burn through my current pair.
In addition to the shoes, I highly recommend Ice Spikes (www.icespike.com). I will put maybe 6 on each shoe and the traction difference is huge! I can add more if needed but they are pretty durable and they really grab everything that I run on.
Windproof underwear-Without it, runs would be cut very short....
Headlight-Almost all of my runs are in the early morning or late at night and I rarely see the sun so proper light is crucial. I'm really digging the Biolite headlights. They are USB rechargeable and don't bounce!
Fleece lined leggings. It is easy to bundle on top but legs get so chilly out there, and that causes them to stiffen up, making every step feel way harder than it should! I always wear fleece lined leggings if it gets under 20 degrees. Some say I'm a freeze baby, but I say I'm smart ;)
Mittens. My fingers go numb in 45 degree weather, so figuring out how to keep them warm was a must. If you have problems with freezing hands, make sure to choose warm mittens over gloves, because having your fingers together helps them to stay much warmer. This may mean you have to ditch the slick running specific gloves...I literally wear big ol' snow mittens these days and my fingers have never been happier.
Wool socks. These are a must. Nobody likes to have numb toes! Thick, warm, wool socks do wonders in the winter. You will want to make sure your feet aren't squished in your shoes though, so you may have to account for this when getting winter running shoes. If your feet are squished and can't get circulation, they'll actually go numb quicker.
How does your training change in the winter?
My winter training is a reflection of things that I need to work on from the previous summer/fall training cycle in preparation for a better spring/summer training cycle. My plan is to have more focused strength/mobility sessions, some faster road workouts, and cross training(skate skiing). I know that if I want to have a big spring/summer of running miles that I need to focus on the "other things" for sustainability and longevity purposes. I will typically throw a couple events in the mix to keep me accountable, but nothing that I am peaking for. The St. Croix 40 and Birkie are fun events to help break up the winter.
In the past, I would add in a lot more strength training and indoor cross training as a way to give my body a break from so much running, while also building it up for the spring. It's a great time to work on weaknesses and let the body take a breather. However, being in the mountains this year things will look a lot different. I've been strength training and swimming, and soon I'll be adding in things like snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and most of all... snowboarding! I'll also probably run more this winter than I have in the past because it is warmer and sunnier in Utah than in the Midwest. So, even though there are boatloads of snow, the trails are much more runnable. Not to rub it in or anything...
Top Winter running tips
Accountability group. Knowing that there are other people joining me for a morning workout makes getting out of bed in the freezing cold and dark a little more tolerable.
Life workouts. I count shoveling the driveway as a workout. Sledding with a toddler is more challenging than any hill repeat workout will every be!
Don't be afraid to try something new. Fat biking, cross country skiing, backcountry skiing, and snowshoeing are all great ways to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
Don't be afraid to look goofy. I despised winter running until I learned how to dress warm. And by that I mean I said "screw it" to looking like an athlete and instead put on tons of clothes until I felt warm enough. Wear the scarf, the baklava, fluffy hat, pants, a puffy, whatever you need to get through it. You'd rather be warm and enjoy yourself instead of looking cool and freezing!
Have a plan, but also be a little flexible. If you don't, it's easy to say "eh, it's too cold, I'm not running." But, if you have a training plan with set days to run, you're more likely to do it. I often look ahead at the week and see what the weather is going to look like. If there are some excessively cold or icy days in the forecast, I try to designate those as cross training or lifting days, or an off day. That doesn't always work, but it's worth thinking about.
Find a running buddy. Or a dog that needs the exercise. If you have someone (human or animal) who also needs to get their run in, you're more likely to get out there! Accountability is one of the best ways to stay consistent with your training.
Now get out there and enjoy the snow!