Adventures In Running

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Running in adverse conditions

It looks like winter has finally hit the northern Utah region with a big snowstorm hitting today. From now on the winter running will be increasingly challenging. I'd like to stay outside as much as possible, but that means taking even more precautions against the changing conditions.

Summer running is pretty simple - throw on a technical running shirt and some running shorts and your shoes and head out the door. If it is really hot - add some water for a daily run and you are good to go. Oh yeah - don't forget a hat and sunglasses. I think those are invaluable. I read somewhere that you use a lot of energy and facial muscles squinting against the sun, but the hat and sunglasses allow your face to relax more. On a typical daily run this might not be significant, but when you are running for hours on end, small things like this can make a big difference. Plus, I'm not as good as I should be about throwing on sunblock, so this helps me keep the sun damage to my face down a little bit.

As the temperatures cool, the first change is usually switching from a singlet and/or t-shirt to a long-sleeved running shirt. If it is a little cooler, some lightweight gloves will keep the hands warm. This can keep me going through a lot of cooler temperatures - usually down into the low 40's. As long as the upper body stays warm and I keep moving, I am okay. I have also been experimenting with 'arm sleeves' this year and like them because they help keep the upper body warm, but can be removed as my body temperature rises from exertion.

Now that the weather is cold every day, I have to check the weather before running. Then I have to decided the following each day:
  • Head - how cold and windy is it? Is it a bill cap, ear warmers, light skull cap or heavy skull cap type of day. Do I need to wear a face mask to help warm the air a little and keep my face warmer?
  • Hands - thin gloves, heavier gloves, heaviest gloves. Gotta keep the hands warm.
  • Upper body - will one long sleeved shirt be enough? How about arm sleeves? Or do I need a t-shirt underneath, running vest, warmer outer shell, running jacket. Upper body can be adjusted by adding or removing layers and zipping and unzipping zippers.
  • Lower body - shorts, capri tights, full tights, warmest tights? Hopefully I won't have to wear thermals underneath - but it might come to that.
  • Feet - socks: lightweight or winter weight? shoes: any pair, or is it slushy and a water-resistant pair needed? Is it slippery out? Can I just run slower, or do I need yaktracks?

If that seems confusing - factor in the time of day to determine if I need to wear any reflective items or if I need to use a headlamp.

My goal is to run outside as much as I can. However, I can tell you this much - I am already looking forward to the ease of summer running.

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