Thursday, March 7, 2013

Winter Running is Fun!

I absolutely LOVE running outside in the winter.  I was born and raised in the South so I didn't have much experience dealing with freezing temps, ice, and snow before moving to Chicago a couple years ago.  I started running, almost three years ago, in hot and sunny Florida and the difference in the weather here and there is pretty drastic, but I love running in Chicago.  The cooler weather makes me feel energized.  
Last winter I attended the Cold, Colder, Coldest winter running seminar held by Fleet Feet which gave me tons of information on how best to prepare for winter running.  The rest I kind of just figured out on my own through trial and error.  Technically winter is almost over, but here in Chicago we have been having some cold days and quite a bit of snow recently.  

Honestly, you can run in almost any weather if you wear the right gear.  Layers are really important when running in the cold because you don't want to be too cold or too hot.  If it is freezing or below I usually wear my fleece lined running tights or workout tights and running pants over.  On top I wear a long sleeve tech shirt and either my Athleta Interval Jacket, which is awesome (great pockets, ventilation, waterproof, windproof, lightweight) or a Champion's fleece running jacket from Target.  
A hat is also essential to keep my head and ears warm.   If it is very windy or frigid I add a gaiter or balaclava to cover my neck and face.  I also put Vaseline on my face to keep my skin protected from the wind and cold temps.  It helps keep my skin moisturized too.
My hands warm up pretty fast when I start running, so I usually just use the thumb hole extensions on my jacket or wear my Smart Wool Liner Gloves.  Smart Wool also makes my favorite winter running socks because they are comfortable, warm, and super moisture wicking.  I ran through some slush the other day and after an initial shock of cold, wet feet the Smart Wool socks moisture control technology kept my feet dry!  (FYI: I read a little while ago that if your shoes get wet from running in the rain or snow just stick newspaper in them after to help them dry faster - it really works!)

When there is packed snow on my running path or ice patches I have been using Yaktrax so I can run safely outside.  
I bought these last year, but didn't get to use them until the snow this year.  They simply go on the outside of your running shoes.  There are steel coils on the bottom that help you get traction and prevent slipping.  I have the Pro version that I got at Fleet Feet, but they do have a Run version that uses coils and spikes.  I thought they would be weird to run in at first, but after a few minutes I didn't even notice a difference wearing them and they worked great.

Running in the snow is one of my favorite things.  The neighborhood, city, and lakefront look so pretty under a white blanket of snow, so it is a nice change of scenery.  Running through fresh or packed snow is an added challenge; an adventure.  Snowy runs are usually not my fastest, but that's OK with me.  I am still out there getting a good workout in and having fun doing it.  Plus, it's pretty awesome to be able to say I ran in super cold temps while it was snowing.  Snowy runs just make me happy.  I am enjoying every moment out there!
Do you like running outside in the winter?  What are some of your favorite winter running items or tips?