Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter and why...

When I first started running I was purely a fair weather strider. This was mostly because the cold air really bothered my lungs. It took me a couple of years to discover however that the body is an amazing machine. When I continue to run through the temperature changes I become acclimated to the weather. It is also the same with running in the heat.

Now don't get me wrong, there is a point where it is too cold, and I am not sure where that will be this year, but it's getting close. So far this year I have had a couple of runs finish up at 12 degrees F. That can be a little chilly but if the wind is not howling, I am fine.

Of course winter running is not all just acclimating your body to the temperature. Proper clothing is essential. When it is that cold, I wear two pairs of gloves, a stocking hat, and a gator, not to mention running pants, 2 base layers and a wind and waterproof jacket. It may sound like a lot of layers, but they are all pretty thin and do a great job of not only insulating me but wicking away sweat. The downside of all of this is that good winter running gear is not cheap. It would not be unreasonable to say that the above running clothes, including my shoes, would total over $300. It is expensive, but if you are serious about running and don't want to log all of your miles indoors on a boring treadmill, it's worth it. I personally have also proven that if you spend money on quality running clothes you will get a good return on them. One of the Under Armour base layers that I wear is approaching the ten year mark and still works great. I am careful not to dry any of my running clothes and although it may not sound attractive and is certainly a personal option, I do at times hang them to dry after a run and wear them again before washing them.

So what's the big deal? Why spend good money to go out in freezing cold temperatures to do something that many people will avoid at all costs? There are many reasons. I run because it is meditation, it makes me feel good and generally lifts my spirits for the day. I run challenging courses, speeds, and environments because I can. Running takes me places and shows me things that many people never see as they speed by in their vehicle. Running has created new friendships many times for me. Not only with my "running buddies" but I share a secret kinship with others that know why we run, how others view us, and how lucky we are to have this opportunity.
Below are some pictures from one of my runs through Falls Park this week. It was a perfect time to run because it started snowing on my way out there and continued while I took these pictures.


  1. This is a great post. I'm just experiencing more than fair-weather running myself - I used to be a treadmill junkie till I started marathon training. It's perfect timing to read this because Charlotte went from mild to COLD this week (and yes, cold here is not like your cold - I think it's in the upper 20s ... nothing like 12 degrees!)

    Will definitely have to invest in some winter running clothes!

  2. Thanks for this. I seem to be a fair weather runner myself, having run a marathon in November and not really get back into it after the cold weather hit. Of course, it's been below zero for days in a row. Today's high is -5. I'd love it if it got to 12 above!

  3. Running in the cold can be fun and add the excitement of man vs nature. My coldest run was -30 Celsius! At that temperature, the water vapour from my breath would catch my eyelids and freeze them shut. Happy times. Winter is coming back in Ottawa. I hope I have time for a run in -10C today.

    I do agree that the technical gear can make a big difference. Also, if I get cold, I run faster and usually that warms me up.