Friday, December 16, 2016

For the Cold Weather Runner


Hello, my name is Kim, and I am a treadmill-hater. ((hello, Kim))

Well, I guess "hate" is a pretty strong, totalitarian word, huh. And, treadmills aren't all THAT bad, but the one sitting in my house has been dormant for the better part of the 2016...and let's just surmise it to say that both the treadmill and myself are quite content with that. No love lost (for either of us).




Anyways, as most people know, I live in Iowa and I pretty much run outside year-round. I endure the extreme heat and humidity of summer, the cool spring rain, piles of crunchy leaves in the autumn, and the frozen tundra of winter...when the temps are often below the freezing point (and frequently plummet below ZERO when the wind is blowing).

I have been asked to share some of my go-to winter running gear (and a few of my tried and true cold weather survival tips)....so here they are. Keep in mind, these are what work for ME. I have been running in the cold weather for more than 10 years, and my body (and mind) have had plenty of time to acclimate to the special and unique nuances of cold weather running. Most of these have been learned by trial and error (more errors than trials, just saying).

1 - A puffer vest
First and foremost on my list of gifts for the outdoor winter runner, is a puffer vest. I don't have any particular brand loyalty, but the prettier (and brighter) the color, the better. Why a pretty or bright color? Because you will want something that is highly visible against the stark white backdrop of snow and dark silhouettes of bare trees. (Obviously, if you're running in the very early or late hours, you also should have some kind of reflective details).  A vest will give you most of the same degree of warmth as a jacket without the underarm "bulk" of sleeves. I usually have a (fitted) thermal-lined base layer and a fleece jacket under the vest. On an extremely cold day (sub-freezing to single digits), I might add an extra layer under the fleece or opt to wear a full jacket if it's just for a short run (2-4 miles).

Nothing comes between me and my puffer vest (unless it's a layer of fleece)
2 - Thermal tights
One of the best investments I could recommend is a pair of fleece-lined tights. Often times, I layer these under my "prettier, funky-patterned" tights for additional warmth. There is a broad price range for these...you can pay upwards of $100 for name brand items, or get decent ones at Target or Old Navy (priced anywhere from $25-$40). I have had very good luck with the lower-priced ones, and with a little TLC they have lasted me for almost four seasons and are still looking good. Here's a hint....these can also be worn under jeans or leggings to football games.

I love my funky tights!
3 - Head gear
I use this term loosely...meaning virtually everything from the shoulders and above. I have a bit of a fetish with fleece headbands, but I'm slowly transitioning to a deep fondness for stocking hats/beanies. Bottom line, you need to have your ears covered, at the absolute minimum. I also recommended you have a scarf or gaiter or something to protect your neck (and pull up over your mouth or nose if it's windy). I have moderately long hair, and although it's more stylish to wear the headband under one's hair, it will actually keep your head warmer by wearing it "over" your hair instead....it will hold your hair in place (instead of having it blow freely as you run).

Sometimes the frigid air demands a double layer of hats (and a scarf)
4 - Accessories for hands and feet
Trust me on this, your extremities will feel the cold temps the most.  I will drop a name brand here...SmartWool (and it's not because I'm an ambassador or make any profit by doing so). I have been wearing SmartWool socks for many years, and I wear them year-round. Wool socks are great for their moisture-wicking properties (especially in the summer), but they're also a great heat barrier in the cold weather. And your hands and fingers? In general, mittens are warmer than gloves (it goes back to that scientific -or is it math?-principal of surface area). That said, I do have several different gloves at my disposal depending on the temps. Often times, I pull my fingers out of the "finger parts" and ball them up in fists inside the "palm" area of the glove...kind of works like a mitten. Other times, I'll layer a pair of medium-thick gloves under mittens...then as my hands get warm, I'll take off the gloves (if they've gotten sweaty) and just go with the mittens. Options aplenty.

Look closely...I'm wearing two pairs of socks here...
5 - Sunglasses
Yes, sunglasses, even on cloudy days. I have very sensitive eyes, and the cold air really does a number on my tear ducts. The sunglasses act not only as a barrier from the wind and cold air, but they also help reduce the brightness of the snow. My skin is also very dry, hence the delicate skin around my eyes is wrinkle-prone.....I'm in no hurry to show my age with excess wrinkles, so I'm doing all I can to prevent "aging" myself.

Yes to the sunglasses!
So, these are my top 5 picks for gift suggestions for the outdoor winter runner in your life. Do you have any of these items? What would you add? Or do you choose to stay inside when the temps get frigid?

I'm linking up with Meranda and Lacey and Rachel for the Friday Five 2.0...and today we're chatting about gift ideas. Also, I'm linking with Nicole for the Fit & Fashionable Friday link-up. Head over, check out the hostesses' blogs, and do give a read to some of the other linked blogs as well!



46 comments:

  1. Great tips because every once in awhile we travel somewhere cold. Last month, I wore two pairs of socks to keep my toes from going numb on an 18 degree run in Yosemite Nat'l Park, CA. I like your tip for wearing gloves and pulling fingers out of the finger tip parts to warm my fingers- will try that!

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    1. It's crazy the things we runners will do to get those runs done!

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  2. The extremities are really important :) Good point!
    I am so impressed with how warm my Old Navy leggings are - they are a great deal.

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    1. I agree! A lot of people snub the "off brands," but I've had great luck with them. I think it's silly to pay premium dollar for brand name stuff when the off brands can get the job done.

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  3. I start wearing vest now too. It's extremely cold here right now, -31c with the windchill so the treadmill is whee my run with happendix today. I actually have a similar post going up next week ,lol.

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    1. I'm trying to do all of my streak runs outside (I was able to do all of the streak runs in 2015 and 2014 exclusively outside). After January 1st, I'll be adjusting my running depending on the weather since I won't really be in training mode until February rolls around (10K in mid-March, and a potential 10K in February).

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  4. I'm all about the vest. I hate feeling weighed down by bulky sleeves.

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    1. UGH. Bulky sleeves annoy me...I'm tall (long legs AND arms), so most sleeves are not quite long enough on me. At least with light-weight jackets/tops, I can scrunch up the sleeves to my elbows LOL

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  5. I don't have to worry about this too much now that I'm in Texas, but when I was in New York, it was all about sweat-wicking base layers, warmer top layers, and things to keep my feet, hands, and ears warm!

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  6. Gosh! As a Florida gal born and raised I must say you looked WARM and I cannot imagine running in the cold! I would totally buy the puffer vest, it's so cute! Oh, and you are not crazy, just crazy committed ;)

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    1. I'm not crazy about the extreme cold weather, but it is a nice change of scene. ;-)

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  7. I'm all about the vest too! I find if my core's warm I don't need all the extra bulk of the sleeves. You've got me thinking I really need to look into the fleece-lined tights!

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    1. Oh gosh, YES, find yourself some fleece-lined tights! They are SO comfy!!

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  8. I wish there had been fleece lined tights when I lived and ran in the cold Winter. Now I see them but don't need them! Good list!

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    1. I didn't discover them until maybe four years ago...not sure how long they've been around.

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  9. I really need to get myself a puffy fun vest!! I will be looking for one after Christmas holiday sales!

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    1. There will be LOTS of great deals right after Christmas ;-) Actually, a great place to look for them are the teeny-bopper stores (Aero, Jean Nicole, Maurices....and Old Navy).

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  10. Also hate my treadmill and will do whatever I can to avoid it. Love a good vest and those smart wool socks are the best

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    1. Yeah, my treadmill is a major dust-collector.....

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  11. Do the puffer vests make swish noises when you run though? I hate that. Haha. And yes and amen to those wool socks! It's not even THAT cold here (about 36 when I'm running in the morning) but I love that it's still dark out when I run cuz my crazy wool socks-over-tights look goes unnoticed. :-D

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    1. Actually, I have never noticed the swishing...probably because there's no sleeves rubbing (?). The wool socks are the bomb, even over the tights LOL

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  12. Even though I live in Florida, I still have a lot of these. I have Raynaud's so I usually have a stash of toasty gloves (and even those $ Spot target hand warmers for the really chilly days). I also cannot be out on colder days without an ear warmer. I would love a puffer vest (we sell some cute ones in our store), but I just don't know that I would get tons of use out of it.

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    1. I totally love my vests! Even if we're shopping...a vest is convenient for the constant in/out of the car.

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  13. I love all your winter wear! I've used hotel gym treadmills this year, but my own hasn't gotten much use.

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    1. You are so good about using gym equipment (out of necessity), I don't know if I could do that. I usually just do stuff in my hotel room...squats, planks, push-ups, etc.

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  14. I have basically all of these items - great list! People often forget the sunglasses, but I agree it's essential (I have pretty sensitive blue eyes, too). I have to say that I LOVE the look, but I rarely use one. My arms get cold, so I usually end up needing the sleeve bulk. You are such a trooper running in the cold and wind. I have to say that I have made my peace with my treadmill :)

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    1. I forgot to mention that I sometimes layer arm warmers under my fleece jackets if my arms need a little something extra. I just don't like the bulk of full sleeves LOL

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  15. Yesterday was so cold that my eyeballs hurt! I couldnt wear sunglasses because it was pitch black out. But my eyes were the only part of me that was exposed. Oh and also my ankles...I need socks that are now low cut for these really cold days!

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    1. The cold air is terrible on my eyes! Somehow, I don't seem to notice it as much in the dark (?)...maybe because I'm looking down (at my footing) so my eye lids aren't open as wide (that's my theory LOL)

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  16. Right there with you on the SmartWool! Hands down, they are my favorite socks. I just snagged a bunch at Marshalls! Usually when they have them, I buy every pair. I may have an obsession!

    I also found some amazing Athlete thermal tights at Marshalls earlier in the fall. They were 24.99, original $90. And I have to say they would be worth the full price, they are that good!

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    1. We don't have a local Marshalls/TJ Maxx, so it's hit and miss when I get to one....they definitely have great deals!

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  17. My biggest problem is the icy patches. They don't do a great job on the road in my neighborhood, and that's where I log most of my miles. Yaktrax break down if I wear them on bare roads. I might have to try out stablicers this year. Cause I gotta train.

    The treadmill isn't my favorite thing, but it gets used. A lot!

    As to the rest, I'm pretty good in the cold weather running clothes department. I double up on socks on really cold days (especially when there's slush around!).

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    1. I have never bought Yaktrax for that very reason...I'm never exclusively just on snow...there's always bare roads at intersections, etc.

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  18. My name is MB and I am a treadmill hater too! LOL! You make running in that freezing a$$ weather look darn right cute!

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    1. Hello, MB ;-) I have to make the cold weather fun (or at least look fun) or else I'd go crazy being cooped up inside. I've had some cold (single-digit "feels like") temps this week, but I just cannot do the 'mill. Especially with the hip/groin rehabbing I'm doing, the repetitive motion of that beast would make things worse. #optoutside ;-)

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  19. I'm with you on mittens. Mittens always win for me. I learned that the hard way my first winter running outside. Annnnd, speaking of those hand warmers you've never worn before, have you tried taping them to the ends of your shoes over your toes? You should try. Mmmm warmth...

    I've never worn in a puffy vest but when it gets super windy or stormy I'll do a fleece vest.

    I love how we basically wear the same clothes. :)

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    1. hand warmers on the shoes...Genius!!!! Thanks!! ;-)

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  20. These are all great items for the cold..thankfully I am now in Florida and have no need for these....

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    1. you probably don't have very many days when the temps are sub-40 ;-) Lucky you ;-)

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  21. I love my smartwool socks for cozy feet on winter runs. I save my puffer vests for super cold days and post workout warm up.

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    1. Yes, SmartWool socks are awesome!!!! I love my puffer vests....for me they're the perfect blend of warmth and convenience (without the bulk)

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  22. Just got a puffer vest and jacket...but how do you clean it if it gets kinda damp from sweat?
    Also, when it's really cold, do you wear 2 sets of tights/pants?

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    1. My vests don't need cleaning very often because there's always a fleece jacket (or long-sleeved top of some sort) underneath. But when I do wash them...it's just in the machine and air-dry (they're not down-filled). Tights....depends on the temps. If it's in the 30-40's, regular tights are usually warm enough. If it's colder (20-30's), I go with the fleece=lined tights. And, it's even colder (or windy) I might layer the fleece tights under "regular" tights. Hope that helps ;-)

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  23. Looks cold, way too cold for me!!! It was hot this past weekend and I will take it. Great job on getting there out there!

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