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Old 11-30-2008, 09:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
Eat your vegetables
 
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How to run in the cold and snow?

I have a question for the avid runners of the TFP.

I enjoy running 2-5 miles every morning, and once a week I typically run more. I don't enjoy running indoors on a treadmill. I prefer getting out and about in the neighborhood, saying hi to people, and noticing the weather's affects on trees and shrubs. For the three years that I lived in Utah, I avoided running outdoors in the wintertime because I found it difficult to breathe the frigid air. In less than a month, I will be moving to Ohio. The weather there will be much harsher than the California winters I have enjoyed running in for the past four years.

My question to you:

How does one comfortably run outdoors in harsh winter weather?
Is it something to which one can grow accustomed?
Do you breathe through a scarf to filter the cool air?
How about keeping oneself hydrated - do you pour yourself a water bottle of boiling water and hope it doesn't ice up?

Thanks in advance for the tips!
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Last edited by genuinegirly; 11-30-2008 at 09:45 AM..
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Old 11-30-2008, 10:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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How cold are we talking? I avoid the scarf, as I have a problem with things in front of my mouth and nose (why I can't wear full face helmets). I suggest definitely NOT boiling water to take running. CamelBack has insulated backpacks that do a pretty good job of keeping water from freezing in the pack and the straw (I know that's the wrong name for that piece).

It is certainly something you can become accustomed to.
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Old 11-30-2008, 11:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Looks like 20ºF (-7ºC) is the average low, record low is -23ºF (-31ºC). So we're not looking at terribly cold temperatures - just potentially much lower than anything I have experienced.

I'll look into those insulated camelbacks. Thanks, Kurty!
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Last edited by genuinegirly; 11-30-2008 at 11:14 AM..
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Old 11-30-2008, 11:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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jazz should be able to help you since he's our man when it comes to running, and the fact that he comes from a shit cold place called chicago.

when i was in new york last year a week before xmas i couldnt but realise how many runners would be out and about running in the cold weather in central park every morning. in snowy conditions!

try lycra pants or some sort of breathable lycra along with lycra top with tshirt on top and maybe some gloves.

ive never run in that cold before, but im sure you can put something in your camelback that will stop it from freezing over. ill ask my friends that did kilimajaro a few months ago
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Old 11-30-2008, 11:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks, dlish!
It's encouraging to hear that you've seen runners out and about in the snow.
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Old 11-30-2008, 11:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Good tips so far.

Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Common sense but made a world of difference for me running in Afghanistan in January.

I keep my camelback next to my skin / UnderArmour / T-shirt with the jacket / sweatshirt over it. Awkward at first, but the old school Camelbacks with plush backing aren't too uncomfy.

I used big poofy ski gloves, sweats and a thin fleece cap. I never had any problem with the feet getting cold.

Fleece neck gaiters are a good idea. They're better than scarves (which you shouldn't have over your nose/mouth while running).

Cabela's used to carry a mask that would supposedly warm the air you breathe by having it move along your face. Or something.
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Last edited by Plan9; 11-30-2008 at 12:02 PM..
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Old 11-30-2008, 12:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I can't stand breathing through a mask. I've tried a few and never found one that allowed enough air to pass through AND didn't get sopping wet/frozen within a few miles.

Like Crompsin said, neck gaiters are great. I don't like the fleecy ones because they irritate my neck, and there are some really good polypro ones out there that will do the trick. There are also some that can be pulled up hood-style to cover the entire neck. It looks funky, but that's never something that bothered me.

When I was training in the dead of winter and doing 60-70 miles/week, there were a couple of tips I learned from older teammates. First, layering is essential. If it was a dry day above about 15F, I could run in 2 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve, running shorts, wind pants, gaiter, gloves and a hat. I might be cold for the first half mile or so until I warmed up (call it 3 minutes), but I'd almost certainly end with my gloves and hat in a pocket. As the temperature drops, add more layers. If it's windy, wear a single or double ply wind jacket (you don't want to add too much heat). If it's wet, add the jacket plus an extra layer.

A thing about wind: there's no reason that you shouldn't run on a cold, windy day, but you should be careful about the direction. I once went for a 10 mile run (I know the distance because I remember the route) with 3 or 4 other guys. We started out with the wind, thinking we'd work harder on the way back as an added bonus. It was blowing at least 20 mph (probably more), and one other guy and I got frostbite on our chests because we sweated enough on the way out that on the way back the wet patches froze.

If you're going to run while it's snowing or freezing rain or any of the nasty precipitations the midwest is known for in the winter, chosing your route becomes even more important. Make sure that it's going to be as free of car traffic as you can possibly get. First, you don't want to be in an accident and second, you don't want to happen across one only to stop, cool down and get yourself into bigger trouble than the driver's in.

As far as hydrating goes, that's a mystery to me. Unless you're running 90+ minutes, don't bother bringing any with you. You won't be able to process enough during your run to make a difference. Just make sure you're hydrated during the day.

Tights vs. wind pants: I've run in both with good results from both. However, tights are not good in the wind. If it's blowing much more than 10 MPH, go with wind pants. If it's not, chose what's comfortable.

Running in the cold is definitely an acquired taste. I hated it at first and love it now. I eventually got to the point that I no longer consider freezing to be particularly cold. It's cold when it's single digits, and I've run in weather as low as 20 below before the wind. There's nothing better than coming inside after a good run and having to peel off layers quickly to keep from overheating.
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Old 11-30-2008, 12:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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As a veteran of the Oxford area, be sure to plan your routes while it's still warm outside. The university is relatively good about clearing sidewalks, but depending on when you run you may run into ice and snow. Just make sure you have good tread on your shoes and be careful about black ice and you'll probably be fine (I ran on snowy and icy sidewalks in Columbus quite a lot, but SW Ohio is better known for freezing rain and sleet while Columbus is known more for snow). If you run into a really nasty day and you still want to run, I believe the Miami U rec center does have an indoor running track. You might not get to see the trees or your neighbors, but you will be able to avoid hurting yourself on a patch of ice.

You should be able to plan shorter routes in Oxford with pretty good traffic avoidance, but for longer routes I'd suggest either going to Hueston Woods and running on trails or saving those runs for breaks when hardly anyone is in town. Once you get to Oxford and see the traffic and people-herds between classes, you'll understand.

If you want specific advice on routes or whatnot, just let me know.
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Old 11-30-2008, 02:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thank you for your great responses!
Crompsin - I've never heard of a neck-gaiter before. I did a quick search and they seem incredibly handy.
Jazz - I will start looking at wind jackets. Thank you for the advice about layering. I will be sure to have running tights and wind pants both. I'm going to have to practice my short runs without water - I tend to take a sip or two every half mile to keep my throat moist. I wouldn't have thought of planning my route around the wind. Thank you for this advice. You wrote an incredibly descriptive post. It's a lot to take in but incredibly helpful.
Pony - (I love your new name) Thank you for the advice about black ice. I never considered trails in the winter. I assumed it'd be best to stick to areas that are regularly plowed. I'll have to see what the woods are like when we get into town. I'll PM you with a few routes that I'm considering.
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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A little late to the party, but I can add a couple more things. Every winter I go through the ritual of rediscovering what I should already know and find myself over-dressing. It takes a few runs to get everything figured out again. The apparent temperature will rise by as much as 20 degrees once you get warmed up so you can dress for a 70 degree run when it's 50 and so on. Lightweight layers are easily shed and carried, then you can put them back on after you stop.

Running in ice and snow is a bit easier with something like YakTrax Pro. They consist of rubber and metal straps that slip on over your shoes and provide traction.
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Old 12-10-2008, 09:30 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I recently stopped running due to my city's sidewalks being sheeted in ice. However, I can add something about what to wear because I was running when it was in the twenties. I typically wore a T shirt and running shorts over long johns. I was fine during the run, but be warned that the walk back is going to be a bitch. But hey, what is running for if not for building mental toughness?
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Old 12-21-2008, 07:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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More late to the party, but we used to run outside down to, I think, 20 or 30 below zero, *F. Yeah, so the military isn't the brightest about some things, but it wasn't really a problem. We didn't even get good clothes to wear-

So, it definitely can be done.

I haven't heard anyone mention 'spikies.' (I haven't made 15 posts yet, so I can't type in spiky (dot) com) Some of the guys used to wear these to help with traction on the ice- like studs on a car tire. I just took a shorter stride.

Have fun.
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Old 12-22-2008, 08:21 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Not that it gets that cold here, but I was quite surprised to find that temps in the 20's are easily doable in shorts and a t-shirt once you get warmed up. I merely changed my route to begin and end at my front door, and do my warmup and cooldown inside the house.
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Old 12-22-2008, 09:22 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Push-Pull View Post
Not that it gets that cold here, but I was quite surprised to find that temps in the 20's are easily doable in shorts and a t-shirt once you get warmed up. I merely changed my route to begin and end at my front door, and do my warmup and cooldown inside the house.
Say, is your body covered with Husky-like fleece? You're hardcore. I tried running in those temps in Afghanistan and lemme tell ya... t-shirt, shorts, jacket, pants, fleece cap, wool glove liners w/ leather shells... not nearly enough. There was no "warming up." There was only suffering and shivering while attempting to run X miles as fast as possible to get back to the shack / tent to defrost.
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Old 12-22-2008, 09:53 AM   #15 (permalink)
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btw, boiling water freezes faster than cold water (due to the molecules being farther apart, and therefore having greater surface area to freeze) so you definitely don't want to do that.
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Old 12-22-2008, 12:25 PM   #16 (permalink)
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...and drinking hot water sucks anyway.
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Old 12-22-2008, 01:16 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Interesting. Maybe I'm of the rare breed that likes to have something covering my nose and mouth. I just can't stand things around my neck. I use an old 100% cotton scarf (probably from somewhere like American Eagle or Gap) when it gets cold enough. Of course, it doesn't really get below freezing in San Jose very often, so the cold I run in isn't as cold as the cold you guys might run in. I only use the scarf when it's in the 38 degree F range or less, which has only happened a few days this year.
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:27 PM   #18 (permalink)
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There is no "secret" about running. There are only tips on what works for other people. No one should be scared to run outside on a cold day unless it is icey out or traffic is a concern. Everything else is just distraction. Those two are dangerous.

I've heard about spikies but not good things. Apparently they're not really stable on asphault or concrete. A guy I know had a really hard wipeout on them when he ran across a frozen puddle. He might have wiped out anyway, but he blamed it on the spikies. Then again, they may be better than sliced bread; I don't know.

Now get your ass out of that chair and go for a run.
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:44 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Now get your ass out of that chair and go for a run.
Best running advice ever.
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:51 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I was out today in temperatures in the teens, crosscountry skiing. Obviously not the same as running, but when I got going (which was actually pretty frequent for a beginner, go me) I was going about that speed. I definitely warmed up fast--I started out bundled up but ended up pretty stripped down by the end of it. I wore an insulated jacket today (the description says it's for "the serious alpinist") and I'll be skipping that tomorrow, going for just a polypropylene thermal top and a softshell. I really want a Patagonia Capilene top to go with the bottoms I had on today. I'd check out the range of Capilene gear if you haven't. They are super-comfy for anything active.
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:36 AM   #21 (permalink)
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It's amazing how much heat our own bodies can produce.

And I'll just second the 'wear layers' comments. You don't want to sweat in cold weather, you can get hypothermia
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Old 12-30-2008, 01:04 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Yea, ice can be a real problem. I recommend not wearing thick layers, just be covered up, face is optional. Eye protection helps though. Depending on the distance/speed, if you are running at a decent and steady pace, you shouldn't be sweating. Also, if you are in shape, you don't have to worry about being cold, because you'll be able to run a lot faster and stay warm. I was amazed that I could run 10 miles in a little over an hour. Also, I am used to San Diego weather, but I was in South Korea for a short while during winter. How long of a distance are we talking that you need water?
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Old 12-30-2008, 09:35 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Thanks, everyone for the advice!

I'm doing fine now on my runs without water, so I should be fine with no water in the cold. My mother gave me subzero running tights and made me a few neck gaiters for Christmas. Looking forward to using them.

Jazz - you made me chuckle. I'm not even in the cold weather yet - it's 55 degrees in Southern California right now - leaving for Ohio in 4 days. When I get there, I'll let you know how the cold treats me.
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Old 01-05-2009, 12:06 AM   #24 (permalink)
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How's it been so far? It's been in the 20's here recently, and I've been thinking about starting running again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeraph View Post
It's amazing how much heat our own bodies can produce.

And I'll just second the 'wear layers' comments. You don't want to sweat in cold weather, you can get hypothermia
/survivorman
And when choosing your layers for cold weather, remember cotton is bad. Because of its absorption, any sweat will hang out right around your skin. The reason wool is preferred is that its absorption holds the moisture towards the center of its fibers. That's why it can feel dry if it's wet (thx google).
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