I live in Colorado and one of the sayings people have for the weather is to wait 30 minutes and the weather will be totally different from before. The weather can change really fast here. I actually experienced this in Summer 2012 while being out hiking four 14ers in one day. We just started hiking down the forth mountain when the weather went from sunny to being overcast to a heavy thunderstorm in less than 30 minutes. We got caught in a nasty thunderstorm that came out of nowhere and it is not fun – especially when lightning is involved. We made it down the mountain safely that day, but it reminded me about how fast the weather can change here.
Anyway, while the weather can change fast within a day, it also changes dramatically from one day to another. The weather forecast for today shows temperatures in the low sixties. The forecast for my half marathon race that is scheduled for December 7th, 2013 (Saturday) is quite different. Take a look at the screenshot below. The temperatures will be in the low single digits from Friday to Saturday and the temperatures will drop into the negative range (minus 9) Saturday night. Depending on where I check the day high temps will be around 20 to 25 degrees, but usually happens later in the day.
On Thursday I will drive up to Westminster after work to pick up my race bib and race T-Shirt. The pickup location is a Roadrunner Sports Runner store and I am planning on getting a new pair of running tights – probably just in time for the race. My current pair (I have only one) is a 4 year old pair of (simple) Nike running tights – the cheapest one I could find back then and while I have worn it in cold temperatures it is not adequate for a race in these low temperatures. So, since I want to run and race more during Winter the timing is just perfect to upgrade my running gear. And of course it will give me a great opportunity to write a review and post here it here on the blog. By the way – writing more product reviews is one of my goals for 2014.
Due to the cold weather, here are some running tips for cold weather runs. I have been running outside in Colorado Winter weather conditions for many years now and that definitely helps to come up with cold weather running tips.
Cold Weather Running Tips
Shoes and Socks
Depending on the outside conditions you need to make sure you have the right shoes and socks ready to go. Running in wet weather conditions requires shoes with less or no mesh material. You also need socks that wick away moisture – be it sweat or water from rain and snow. Some running shoes are made with Gore-Tex material on the upper parts, but they might cost a bit more. Nike also makes bad weather versions of some of their shoes, but you usually don’t find them in department stores or locally at all. Your best bet is to buy the bad weather version of your shoe online.
A big danger of running in cold or bad weather conditions is when you start sweating and get a chill. Most experts recommend to dress as if the temperatures would be 20 degrees warmer than what it actually is. You want to be a little bit cold at the time you start running so that you feel warm when you warmed up from running. You also want to wear layers of technical running gear – especially on the upper body. The technical running clothes will wick away sweat from your body. Wearing layers will also allow you shed layers when needed. On top I always wear a jacket with a zipper so that I can open the zipper when I start getting hot. I can also take off the jacket and wrap it around my hips for running. After all I am out there for running, not to look good.
Hat and Gloves
I always wear a running hat and running gloves. Both wick away sweat from the matching body parts which is important. A cold head because of sweat is a recipe for disaster.
If you run in the dark hours of the day in Winter, make sure you can be seen. Wear reflective, fluorescent running gear, and don’t be shy about lighting yourself up like a Christmas tree. A LED head lamp is also a good running companion. Not only does it allow you to be seen, but it also helps you to see the road or path where you are running.
While you will sweat more in warmer temperatures, you still sweat quite a bit when running in colder temperatures. Do not forget about hydration – especially on your longer runs. Also keep in mind that if you carry water with you that colder temperatures can turn water into ice. It might make sense to start out with a bottle of warm water instead of cold water because the outside temperatures will take care of warm water in no time. My Fitletic hydration belt fits conveniently under my running jacket and that helps to keep the water bottles from freezing.
Running in Winter can be fun if you are prepared properly and have the right running gear. I actually enjoy running outside in Winter. There is even less traffic around where I run and running in a Winter Wonderland landscape is simply awesome.