Northerners can enjoy outdoor running year-round. Like often heard, the temperatures are never too cold, people only dress inadequately. Don’t be held hostage by the weather.
A Texas marathon in early March creates an intensive long run schedule in the weeks preceding it. Fun that the fourth coldest stretch in recent history, ten days of sub-zero weather, are right in that midst!
A 21 mile run on an 11 below, 33 below wind chill day will test your fortitude and strengthen your resolve.
The human body is a magnificent machine with a well-working respiratory system. There will not be lung damage if you protect yourself.
Running safely in winter takes a little planning to make sure you’re dressed comfortably and have the right gear. Because of the heat you generate, it is also good not to overdress.
Wearing the proper layers will keep you warm without restricting movement. Layers trap warm air that keep you from getting chilled.
The base layer next to your skin should be moisture-wicking. Polypropylene works well to hold sweat without soaking all the other clothing. Under Armor long sleeve shirts and thermal underwear cover most of your body.
The next layer should be warm clothing and a hooded Fargo Marathon sweatshirt works great. A windproof, breathable running jacket keeps cold air off insulating areas. Tucking your shirts into a single pair of loose fitting insulated sweat pants adds warmth and wind protection.
On recent bitter cold days, a fluorescent running shirt adds a fourth layer with safety colors. There are some Highway 210 Bypass miles to check out Kidder Recreation Areas alongside busy truck traffic so it is good to stand out.
Keeping extremities like fingers and toes warm is critical. Running gloves worn in deer skin mittens keep fingers plenty warm. A couple pairs of "Fit Sox" running stockings covered by insulating wool sox, even in breathable running shoes keep sweating feet and toes comfortable in sub-zero weather.
If there is a fresh snowfall covering the trails, it is great time to use trail running shoes as their treads are aggressive and provide better footing. They need some breaking in for a mountain run this summer anyway.
If we get a nasty ice storm, use attachable cleats on your running shoes that provide a good grip. They don’t work that great if there is only intermittent ice and there are barren asphalt and concrete areas.
A running cap and a couple face masks are fitted so there is only a sliver to look through. There should be no exposed skin because it can frostbite in minutes. After the run, frozen breath creates a frosty border around face openings, mouth and nose areas. It makes for a pretty cool after-run picture.
I have never been cold running. There are times when the northwest wind is howling when running that last mile-and-a-half stretch on the levee trail from 11th Avenue South to home when it freezes the dampened outside clothing and you feel and run like the Tin Man.
There may be times when it is OK to look out the window and run on a treadmill. Some of us call them “dreadmills.” They are probably smart and safe.
There is usually one day a year when I will listen to wife Joan and run inside. A recent 24 below day caused me to run four hours in the Community Center gym that greatly threatened my health by dying from boredom.
Put on the right combination of layers, clothes and skin protectors and you can enjoy running in the Ice Belt. Who knows, it could train you for the Antarctica Marathon some day!