How do you deal with running in winter? In Vermont?!
My first marathon is this May, and quickly after signing up (well, I did think about this dilemma before registering), I knew a lot of my training would take place in the winter. I’m not into using the treadmill, and don’t care to pay for a gym membership, so running outside it is.
After taking a break from running for over two months in the fall, getting back into it has felt surprisingly refreshing, although I wouldn’t say I love running in winter. My ears get freezing cold while running, even with a hat, and slush, snow, and ice don’t make for the greatest running companions.
But I’ve learned how to work with it, and I tend to run on dry days when the roads are pretty clear. For the first few weeks I kept waiting for the weather to warm up…but it just stays cold up here. The motivation with my upcoming big race helps get me out there, for sure, but I’ve learned a few tricks that I actually think will keep me running past this winter.
What running fuel do you use?
Currently jellybeans – just plain old jellybeans (not the electrolyte kind). Swedish Fish are my favorite running fuel, but my mom gave us a tin of jellybeans, so we’re both using those for now.
I like to use pure sugar for running, but as the mileage increases, I plan to add in other fuel options. Honey sounds appealing, and I’ve used Gu before, so I’ll experiment with a few options over time. Maybe maple syrup? Mmm.
What shoes do you run in? Do you use something to stabilize your feet from ice?
I’ve gotten a bunch of recommendations to try Yak Trax or some other device to snap on the bottoms of my shoes to prevent slipping and sliding in wintry conditions. I’m a frugal kind of girl, so I haven’t purchased anything like that, and instead prefer to run on days that the roads are clear and the weather is dry.
Josh put sheet metal screws in the bottoms of his shoes for traction, which seems to be helping for added traction.
In the meantime, I’ll just stick to my regular shoes, the Mizuno Wave Rider 15, though I did just get a new pair. Maybe I’ll add screws to the old pair.
What do you wear to stay warm?
I’ve definitely learned how to dress for winter running. Six months ago I might have said running in weather colder than 40°F was too cold, but now I’m fine with 20°. I’m slowly getting used to winter running, and learning what works for me.
Certainly dressing for winter weather running is quite personal – it depends on how much you warm up while running, and how many layers you prefer. I find more layers is usually better, especially with tops and jackets, since I can always tie one around my waist if I need to (but haven’t needed to).
I always wear a hat and mittens or gloves, and often wear a neck gaiter too. These accessories are the first items to go when I get too hot while running, since they’re easy to pull off and help get the body cooled off again.
I’d recommend running with different layers at different temperatures, and not going too far from home so you can grab more layers if you need to. Oh, and if it’s below 20°, I’d suggest putting Vaseline on any exposed body part. I haven’t tried it, but read about it through Jeff Galloway’s Woman’s Complete Guide to Running, and it just makes sense. (The book also has a great chart for determining what to wear depending on the temperature. It helps loads.)
What if it’s just too cold to run? What will you do?
Um…stay in. Yup. If it’s below 20°F or so, I’d rather not be outside at all. I’ll maybe do a little cardio, strength training, or yoga at home, or I’ll take an extra rest day. But spring’s coming, right?
And the temperatures are bound to warm up again one of these days, so slowly but surely, I’ll get these training runs done. The long runs are my favorite anyway – lots of time to reflect and enjoy nature, to experiment with fuel and clothing options, and to let the body warm up more than on my twice-a-week 30 minute runs.
Only three and a half months to go until marathon day! Woohoo!