The Runner's Reward

Monday, January 25, 2016

Winter Run Fun: Training in the Cold

Sure the winter isn't always the best time to run.  We have less daylight, cold temperatures, and for me a pervasive laziness/ love affair with my couch and blankets. The Pittsburgh Marathon and summer race season is much closer than it seems at the present so here are a few ideas to kick your training into gear:

1. Get some reflective gear and winter running gear.  If it isn't icy out you can still run in this cold weather. Once you spend the money on the gear you'll be less likely to back out of using it.

When testing new winter gear make sure to stay close to home or some place you can warm up if things aren't working out!

This past weekend I ran at North Park on both trails and road. It was 6 degrees with a negative windchill and I had started before sunrise. Here is how I ran safely in these conditions:

Gear check from the bottom up!

Feet: 1 pair of thin Pearl Izumi socks, 1 pair of wool Darn Tough socks, Brooks Cascadia shoes.

Legs:  Moisture wicking underwear, insulated tights, Saucony Siberius pants (good and bulky, they cut the windchill down to nada)

Torso: Nike Hyperwarm long sleeve (or similar insulated moisture-wicking base layer),  3/4 zip tech long sleeve , and an Asics vented jacket.

Head: Fleece neck gaiter with moisture wicking hood, beanie cap, ninja face mask, snow goggles. The neck gaiter and mask came off after a few miles, but it's better to have it and not need it than vice versa. I also used a headlamp until after sunrise.

Hands: Manzella wind-block mittens and handwarmers.

FYI: most handwarmers are good for 8-12 hours once activated,  If you put them in a wind block mitten where there is no free oxygen access they will only last for about 2 hours.

Pack: I wore an Ultimate Direction PB Adventure vest which has plenty of room for extra dry clothes, water, and nutrition. Plus it is another layer on your back and can do wonders to help keep you warm.
Warm Tony is Happy Tony

Keeping your water in liquid form in these temps is no easy task. Some hopefully helpful hints:

Use an electrolyte beverage like Hammer Heed. The electrolytes (salts) lower the freezing temperature of water and can help keep your beverage from turning into a solid.

Using an extra pack of handwarmers to keep around your bottle(s). However, be warned! I did this using a Salamon soft flask the other day and the plastic was blackened. It did not melt, but it was discolored.

Always carry a few dollars with you. If your route takes you by a store you can warm up and get some liquid refreshment.

Cell phone:  For obvious safety reasons try and carry a phone. However, once the phone gets too cold it will shutdown.  A friend shared a fix for this. A beer coozie! Put your phone in it and then keep it on an inside pocket.  In a pinch I have placed my phone under my tights against my buttcheek to warm it back up enough to turn back on!

After 12 hard miles, 4 of which were at tempo effort on snow covered trails, I had a serving of Hammer Recoverite as I always do after a long run and then treated myself to some eats and hot coffee at the OTB Cafe. Breakfast tacos....oh you lovely little things. mmmmmmmm

2. If it is too icy or frigid out hit the treadmill and/or gym for some crosstraining. If you do not feel safe running in wintry conditions then don't.  There are other ways to keep your training on track.

Though I am no fan of treadmill running it is a great option to stay on track. If the weather is too miserable to run in I'll head over to Planet Fitness for an hour or two of treadmiles and crosstraining.

In lieu of treadmill running I often opt to do the elliptical, arc trainer, stationary bike, and stairclimber which covers most of the leg muscles and top it off with some low rows / seated rows, and ab work. Hip abductor, adductor, and glute muscle machines are also among my favorites.

Lately, I have been lax in crosstraining and doing only 30 minutes worth per week.  One of my goals is to increase that.  If you want to run your best and reduce the chance of injury and good crosstraining regimen is worth it's weight in gold.

3. Friends! Get some crazy friends to go out there with you! Hardship is always more bearable with good company. Beyond bearable you might just find you are having fun!

Getting out there with Pittsburgh local running groups is always a good time. I run with the Steel City Road Runners, North Park Trail Runners, Elite Runners and the Runderful crew. Stop in your local running store to find out what groups are in your area and join in on the group run fun.

The end of January is here. We only have a couple more months of colder temperatures and soon after that it will be Marathon Day here in the Burgh! Keep your eyes on the prize and above all stay safe out there! Happy Training!


I just got word that I was accepted as an ambassador for Hammer Nutrition! I couldn't be happier to be a part of the team whose products have treated me so well over the past couple years of training and racing!

Use my code: 255648 on your Hammer orders for 15% off!

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