So… My plan this training cycle was to run outside as much as possible. But, I’ll admit, I’ve been taking it to the treadmill a lot more often than I would like. Part of it is because I just don’t have a safe place to run, thanks to snow covered sidewalks and busy roads. But, mostly, I’m just a big, fat wimp and don’t want to freeze my rear off. That, and I just don’t want to pack that much clothes in my work bag.
However, I have my limits for the treadmill, and training for a half marathon definitely exceeds those limits. I’ve done 13 miles on a treadmill before, and I promise to never do that again. Regardless of how I am able to occupy my mind and time while on the treadmill, it simply cannot beat outdoor running to me. And I refuse to do anything over an hour on the treadmill anymore. Which means, I’ve gotta do those long runs outside in the frigid weather.
Here are my “rules of thumb” when it comes to what to wear when running outside in the cold:
60 degrees or warmer: Shorts and T-shirt. Let’s face it, that’s perfect running weather!
50 to 60 degrees: Shorts and a long sleeve shirt. I typically wear another layer under my long sleeves so if I get to warm, I can shed that.
45 to 50 degrees: Shorts, long sleeve shirt, ear warmers, and gloves. I’ve found that I can handle shorts when the temps are above 45 degrees, but I still need things to keep my hands and ears warm. Depending on the wind, I might shed the gloves, but I typically leave them on.
32 to 45 degrees: Leggings, long sleeve shirt, ear warmers, and gloves. I can get away with gloves instead of mittens if it’s over 32 degrees, but depending on the wind, I might wear a hat instead of the ear warmers.
32 degrees or colder: Leggings, long sleeve shirt, jacket, hat, and mittens. The freezing mark is about my limit for outdoor runs, but I’ll go out if it’s in the 20s and I have no other options. However, mittens are an absolute MUST for me, and even then, my fingers still go numb. I also add an extra layer for warmth, plus my CEP Compression socks help keep me a little warmer too.
Other bad news about winter running? Darkness. Now that I’m not nursing Miles in the mornings anymore, I can get away with waking up a little bit later to start my long run, so I don’t have to deal with the dark nearly as much. But, it still can be an issue on days I need to wake up a little earlier, like before work to run or if we have something going on in the morning the day of my long run.
The two things I worry about more than anything when running in the dark: my footing and being killed. OK, that puts it a little harshly, but I’m always worried about being attacked when I’m running in the dark. I feel like I could take someone, but I need a little extra help.
Safety is definitely key, so I rely on a few things when it comes to running in the dark. First of all, I ALWAYS have my phone on me, just in case something happens. (I have a SPI Belt that I absolutely love – I honestly forget that I’m wearing it a lot of times!) I have also started carrying mace with me – again, just for some extra back up should I need it.
But, the biggest game changer for me lately has been my knuckle lights. I asked for these for Christmas, knowing that I would probably need to do some runs in the dark come track season. These definitely make me feel safe and are the best lights I have used. Now, I can see the road and trails, and cars can see me. I definitely feel much safer with them, for the only reason that I can see what’s going on around me. (Full disclosure: no money exchanged hands for me to brag about Knuckle Lights – I seriously love them from my own personal experience and want EVERY runner to be safe.)