Yesterday was the first day of 'Spring' Marathon Training Season for a lot of running groups across the country/world - and I use the term 'spring' very loosely because it felt anything but.
In Cincinnati, the temperature hovered around 5 degrees during our run. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad out...even though I know people driving by us thought we were bat-sh@# crazy as their heaters pumped warm air on their faces!
Even though you've signed-up for a spring marathon; your training begins when it is frigid, bitter cold out. Despite the fact that you may want to train on a treadmill (it's fine in moderation) you still need to be out on the roads where you can train your body to climb natural inclines, make turns and dodge potholes. These arctic temps make running attire SO important.
Here are a few tips that I've learned over the years that will hopefully help you on your next outdoor run:
1) LESS is MORE! I know that may seem like a big, fat lie; but you don't want to get out on a run only to find that you've over-dressed and are now overheating. While running, your body temperature will rise so a rule of thumb is that you want to be chilly when standing outside before you begin your run. Also, AVOID BULKY ATTIRE...leave your big, fluffy coat at home. Not only does it constrict your body's natural stride, it weighs you down.
2) DRY-WICK...Select running attire that is designed for runners. Yes, it is an investment; but it is SO worth it! I cannot stress this enough. Not only will this material pull the moisture away from your body, but it is light-weight and stream-lined so it fits snug.
3) LAYER, LAYER, LAYER...My running attire can pretty much be broken down into three or four outfits all based on the temperature outside. For the (15 degrees & Below Category) - which is where we were yesterday - my wardrobe is Two pairs of socks (my normal ankle running socks with a pair of compression socks over them so my calves have an extra layer), two pairs of pants (my compression tights with a pair of fleece-lined running pants over them), three tops (a thin, dry-wick shirt with a fleece-lined shirt, and then my hooded pull-over), a neck-warmer, a hat and gloves. I also take my glasses - even if it's not sunny - to protect my eyes from wind.
4) HANDWARMERS ARE AWESOME!!! Bless my running partner's heart...I thought I had my North Face gloves in my car yesterday, but I couldn't find them. When I got in to meet the group I was telling her my dilemma saying, "My fingers are gonna freeze in these thin gloves I have!!!!" She, thankfully, had a pair of glove warmers she wasn't planning to use. And they kept my hands toasty warm. (I tried to give them back to her when she was complaining of her own hands being cold, but it was her fingers that were bothering her so the glove warmers wouldn't have done her much good anyway.) The nice thing about glove warmers is they could easily be taken out and thrown away mid-run if you got over-heated.
* On a side note - The above story is one of many reasons training with a running group is SO beneficial.
5) MY SECRET WEAPON (AND MY CHEAPEST PIECE OF RUNNING GEAR) - Are you ready to know one of the greatest, most under-rated pieces of running gear? It's probably in your kitchen right now... The lovely TRASH BAG :) I first found out about the blessed trash bag during my first marathon-training season because people wear them a lot to the start line of races, so they can then toss them once their body heats up. I then decided it might be a good idea to try on a rainy run...I mean they are waterproof, right? Well, my handy-dandy garbage bad is now my staple whether it's bitter cold, raining or race day. Do I look like a big goober - just like Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook? Why, yes I do! Do I care? Absolutely not! I'm warm! And if I get too warm, I can always rip that bad-boy off.
Me in all my trash-bag glory!
6) A CHANGE OF CLOTHES - Here's another secret for those of you traveling to run at a destination away from your house. Once you're finished with your run, and your body is all warm from within, you are covered in sweat that is going to quickly turn to frozen torture once you stop running. And that ride home in that cold car is going to be pretty miserable. Take a warm, dry pair of socks, pants and a sweatshirt with you. There are usually public restrooms around where I run; but don't think I haven't climbed into the back seat of my car to get out of my running clothes! This is especially true after a run in the rain!!!!
My running group ran an impressive 8 miles (with a pretty impressive incline) on the first run of this season!!! (It's normally around five flat miles, so I'm kinda nervous about what they have in store for us this year...) My running partner and I decided to play it safe and cut our run short considering neither of us had run since Thanksgiving. My Garmin stopped working mid-run, so I'm not sure how far we actually got - but I think it was somewhere around 5.5 miles. I'll take it for my first run back!
Happy Trails :)