It’s that wonderful time of the year. Winter. For those of us up north or in the snow belt that means sub-freezing temperatures and flying snow. What do runners do when animals such as bears, squirrels and chipmunks have better sense and hibernate? We RUN of course! But running under arctic conditions requires a change in wardrobe and tactics. So here is our Top 10 Winter Runner Necessities to help keep you safe and warm during your snowy runs.
10) Hot Chocolate. You’ve all heard how chocolate milk is a good recovery drink. So I’m going to assume that hot chocolate is going to be the cold weather version of the famous recovery drink. I may be wrong, but I don’t care. I’ll still drink hot chocolate after my long cold runs!
9) Warm Socks. Some nice warm woolen running socks are just the thing. My favorites happen to be SmartWool. They’ve done a great job keeping my toes warm and blister free.
8) Tights. As badass as you think you might look running in shorts in single digit weather you’re fooling no one. One slip up in a snow bank and you go from badass to coldass. Dress for the weather and make your run more enjoyable, and help keep your legs from injury.
7) Beard. Keep your neck and face from cold and windburn by showing your inner yeti. Bonus: beardsicles! For those of us who are follicularly challenged in the facial hair department a good buff will work just as well, if not better. With a buff you can remove it when you get to warm, and you don’t have to walk around looking like a wild animal all winter.
6) Buff. Use it on your head, neck, arms, legs, wherever you need to get a little protection. It easily vents if you get to hot, close it up if you get too cold. Use it as a headband during the summer to keep the sweat out of your eyes as well. This versatile piece of gear is a must have for your running bag.
5) Windbreaker. They key to staying comfortable is layers. Top it off with a light windbreaker to keep the cold north wind from freezing your torso. You can easily add or subtract layers underneath depending on the temps.
4) Gloves. Find a good pair of gloves that will keep your fingers comfortable for the long run. But you don’t want to overdo it. Your fingers will quickly warm up after a mile or two of running. Everyone is going to have different comfort level on this, so find a pair that will keep you comfortable. You can also get convertible, “turtle”, or zippered gloves that will allow venting as you warm up.
3) Traction. Snow and ice will be your surface of choice during the winter months, so make sure you get some traction to prevent falls and broken bones! Trail shoes with good traction work well in most cases. As things ice up you may need to move towards Yaktrax or screws. I use old running shoes and place some hexed 3/8 self tapping screws in the tread for when it gets really icy out there.
2) Phone. At first you might not think a cell phone as an important winter running necessity. But as temps drop you may need to quickly get a hold of someone in an emergency. A sprained ankle four miles into the woods during the summer is an inconvenience. During the winter it could be a life or death situation.
1) Your sense of Adventure! Go out and have fun!