Winter Favorites

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Winter Favorites
By mid-winter each year, my friend Becky starts a countdown until the first day we can wear shorts again on our runs. It’s a bit early still to go there, but with the longest month just about over, it feels like there is hope spring may indeed arrive some day. In the meantime, however, we likely have another month of dreary weather on our hands.

You may have heard me say before that I really, truly, have no tolerance for treadmills. That doesn’t mean I don’t consider treadmill running “real.” I do, and I get that many mamas have no choice, especially in winter. But because I will go to the ends of the earth to avoid the treadmill, I’ve become pretty good at doing what it takes to get outside in the middle of the dark, short winter days. These are my go-tos when the weather gets frightening:

  • A calendar and a weather forecast—Around these parts, the weather folks start hyping snow days in advance, so when I hear it’s coming, I look at the calendar. Then I start moving runs around. If my long run is set for Saturday but we’re supposed to get an ice storm Friday night, I shift that run to Friday. Then it’s over and done and I don’t have to stress about potentially missing it. I do this with other runs, too, if necessary, to get outside. My standard advice with this maneuvering: Always keep a hard/easy pattern in your schedule, and don’t forget that long runs count as hard, even if the pace is comfortable (and it usually should be!).

  • A set of yak trax or some such traction device—There have been many runs I would have skipped if I didn’t have the confidence of yak trax keeping me upright. These handy devices strap onto your shoes in no time and provide you with the traction needed to run when conditions aren’t favorable. You can find them online, at your local running store, or even Eddie Bauer, among other retailers.

  • A neck gaiter—when the temperatures dip below 10 here (thankfully not all that often) I add a neck gaiter to keep my face warm in those early miles. Almost always I wind up pushing it down around my neck, but it is a life saver when I first step outside.

  • Fleece tights—Ok, ladies, I have been running for 20 years and I finally bought a pair of these cozy bottoms. Where have they been all my life? From about 15 degrees to the low 20s, I wear them alone. When it gets down below 10-15, I add in a pair of bum huggers because for some reason, having the posterior in an extra layer makes some kind of difference.

  • A good shell—Not something I pull out until it’s under 20 unless it’s windy, but a lightweight shell is so darn good at trapping the heat. Combine it with one long-sleeved shirt and I’m covered. My favorite is from cycling, actually, and has removable sleeves in case you warm up, with a pocket into which you can stash them.

  • Ankle-length compression socks—I can’t even remember when/where I got these, but they are like little heaters for the feet when the temps are low.

I haven’t met a day/temperature yet here in Maryland where I can’t get outside with some combo of this gear and planning, and that’s after 20 years of running. They save my runs--and my sanity!

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