Friday, February 11, 2011

Running in the cold

Me with an ice beard after this morning's run
I'm fortunate to be training in a state where the winters are relatively mild. A "cold" morning here might be 20 degrees, where in a place like Chicago it could easily be below zero. Still, it took me several years to figure out what clothes work best on a cold day.

Lately, if it's been below about 45 degrees, I prefer to wear tights rather than shorts. I know some people think they look dorky, but they keep my legs warm, and warm legs are less likely to get injured. I haven't tried compression sleeves, which seem to be all the rage lately, and I know the folks who have tried them really seem to like them, but given that my knee has been a weak point lately, it seems unwise to leave the knees uncovered in the cold.

Up top, if it's below freezing, I wear a long-sleeved compression shirt. This does an amazing job not only keeping me warm but wicking sweat away from my body. It's now hard for me to believe that for years I ran in cotton T-shirts and sweatshirts, which get sopping wet and can end up literally freezing on very cold days. I top it off with a light jacket—I tend to run hot. On extremely cold days, below 20 degrees and/or windy, I add another layer, either a long-sleeved or short-sleeved T-shirt.

If it's above 25 or so, I wear my regular running cap; if it's colder I wear a beanie, and on really cold days I'll add a thermal headband to warm my ears. I have a love-hate relationship with gloves. My hands tend to run very hot or very cold. I've noticed that I'm generally the first person to remove my gloves as I warm up on a run; I've run for miles on sub-freezing days with no gloves at all. Today, when it was about 24 degrees out, for some reason my hands were very cold for most of the run, even with gloves on. I finally decided to just crank out an extra-fast uphill mile, and that warmed everything up nicely. I've also found that socks are important -- I'll wear thicker socks on colder days.

Today I was scheduled to run 11 miles, another long-ish midweek run. For me that's on the borderline for whether or not to carry a water belt. I decided not to; I hydrated well beforehand and ate a banana before I started. This week involves so many miles that I've decided not to push the pace on any one run; I just want to make sure I get the miles on the pavement. So once again, I shot for about a 9-minute pace. But today I was running the hill route, so it was really a more aggressive pace than I ran on Wednesday. I also decided to go without my knee brace; I wanted to test my knee out on some hard downhills. I was a little reluctant to go full-stride on the downhills, but overall the knee felt all right. I think I'm going to wear the brace tomorrow when I do a little speed work, and Sunday for the 21-miler. As I mentioned, I was a little cold for most of the run—I wonder if it was actually a bit colder out in the countryside than what my home thermometer reported. I could have done with an extra layer. But other than the one quick uphill mile I mentioned above, I basically maintained a steady 9-minute pace throughout—a little slower going up; a little faster going down. And with an overall elevation gain of 743 feet over those 11 miles, I got a good dose of hills in as well: That's the same elevation gain as on the still-hilly Wednesday run, but in 3 fewer miles.

No comments:

Post a Comment