Preparing to Run in the Winter
Congratulations, if you are even interested in this topic, this must mean you are contemplating the thought of facing the outdoors during the wet, cold, windy and dark season of the NW (which could be longer than you’d expect).
Steps of surviving and enjoying this time of year.
Know yourself. Do you get cold easily? Are you prone to heating up quickly or sweating during exercise? How long do you plan to exercise?Are you walking, jogging or running? Are you doing your exercise during darker hours or during the daytime?
Check the weather. We get a lot of cool, wet and windy weather from the south and cold dry weather from the north. The temperature here usually ranges from 35º to 54º from November to March.
If you can answer the questions about yourself and have checked the weather then picking the right gear becomes a little easier.
A quick tip for everyone. Don’t grab your cotton t-shirt and underwear. Cotton is really comfortable for everyday wear but for a performance material it sucks…really it does. It sucks all of the wetness it can and becomes heavy, saturated, and coarse. It also lays this wetness next to the skin making you colder and wetter.
A second tip is to manage your wetness from sweat and rain. If you exercise, you’ll sweat. If you sweat, you’ll be wet, whether it’s raining or not. So the goal is to remain comfortable while managing being wet. To do this use fabrics other than cotton. Fabrics that wick the moisture away from the skin include synthetics, wool or a blend of these fibers. These fabrics come in a number of different styles, colors, fits, weights, features, and prices.
Here are some suggestions starting from your head to your toes.
Head and neck: We lose 40-45% of our body heat from our heads. Cover up with stocking caps, baseball caps, ear bands, balaclavas and neck gaiters. Use the ones that are the most comfortable for your needs.
Upper body: This is where we generate the most wetness and heat. It is also where we can suffer the greatest coolness and wetness if not managed correctly. Wicking fabrics are a must here and they can range from a lightweight piece to a mid-weight material. The fit can be loose or closer fitting, long sleeve or short, half zips or hoodies. A packable shell/jacket or vest can be your final layer. All of the layers in this category can be used by themselves or in combination with each other.
Arms and hands: Covering your arms and hands will definitely help you first minutes outside. The nice thing about using these pieces is that you can always add or remove these items throughout your activity. Products include gloves, gloves with a mitten covering, mittens and arm warmers.
Lower body: Coverage will vary depending on your comfort level for the cooler wetter weather. Some of you may be happy using shorts only, yet many of you may want to combine a couple of these items together.
Shorts that are 7-9” are a great choice for covering the thighs. Shorts with a fitness short liner, fitness shorts, capris, knicker tights, lightweight tights, winter tights, fitness pants and rain pants are all good choices. Again, the cooler you feel, the more you should cover or combine with another piece.
Feet: There are many choices in many shapes, weights, sizes, colors and prices of socks. Materials range from wool to synthetics. Again, stay away from cotton.
Reflective: Will you be seen or better yet, can you see where you are going? There are many choices in clothing and footwear that add a reflective element to the piece. Please remember, it is darker during our winters and even though you may be comfortable seeing, not everyone will be able to see you. So, try to be proactive in being seen and seeing where you’re going.
To sum this all up:
Typically, everyone starts out cold for the first 5 to 10 minutes. Use pieces in layers that keep your core body within a range you can manage for the entire time of your expose outside. Add and subtract pieces as needed.
Remember, exercising is a wet business and managing this wetness is the most important point in enjoying the NW.