Thursday, December 12, 2013

Baby, It's COLD Outside

On Monday I went to the gym based on a forecast of ice drizzle that never materialized. I had a pretty hard dreadmill experience (I'll just say that it was an exercise in mental fortitude), and it would have been a perfect day to run outside. Nice fresh snow, sunny, quite cold but not horribly so. I was determined not to make that mistake again. My new winter mantra: when in doubt, run out!

So today I bundled up. Today, it was 1 degree when I left the house. Yes, 1 degree above zero. Fahrenheit. And not sunny. Oh, and windy.

One kid dropoff, 8 miles, and two hours later, it was a balmy 6 degrees. Still pretty windy. A little sun.

Here's what I wore:

Regular trouser socks underneath my regular, year-round ankle-height running socks. I have some thin wool running socks on order but they haven't arrived yet, and my old winter running socks bit the dust last year. At least the trouser socks were acrylic, not cotton.

Long underwear under my lightweight running pants.

A short-sleeve thin running shirt, long enough to cover my butt. This is an ugly shirt from a race I'm not wild about, but it's a perfect underlayer, so I've kept it.

A thin long-sleeve overshirt. Again, another shirt I'm not wild about, but it's good as an overlayer, especially since the sleeves are long (this became important).

My Hot Chocolate 15K tech hoodie from last year. This is a great cold weather top.

The baby has claimed my neck gaiter and my replacement one hasn't come in yet, so a wide acrylic scarf, wrapped around my face and neck several times.

A tech running beanie hat.

Chapstick smeared liberally all over my face as a wind break. You laugh, but it works!

The hood of my hoodie kept all my head and neck gear in place.

Running gloves. These on their own were definitely not enough. All the way to daycare my hands were freezing and I was thinking that this would be the weak link in my outfit, the one that had the potential to spoil my long-run plans. Luckily, just before I was about to raid the kids' clothing boxes for extra socks I remembered my shirt has really long sleeves, and I was able to pull them out and cover up my hands in the gloves. Perfect!

Once my feet warmed up I was pretty good for the whole run. The wind was an issue and impacted my choice of route - I had wanted to run along the lakefront but that just wasn't an option for me today. When I started I really didn't know if I would be able to complete my intended eight miles, but figured that at the very least this would be an information-gathering exercise in what kind of gear I might need to keep running outside this winter. I will say that it is unusually cold for Chicago, we get testy when it dips into the teens, let alone the single digits. And most winters I've been sidelined by injury and haven't tried to do regular long runs outside. So I really don't have a "winter running gear" selection, just some odds and ends that I throw together for the few times I have gone out. But apparently that works! I will be happy to get those wool socks, though.

I could use some hot chocolate right now...

Not yet warmed up -


  1. Yeah, it's dang cold right now!! I usually throw some type of cotton t-shirt outside of the tech shirts, and a light windbreaker on top of everything- just to help with the wind. I've never been happy with running gloves- even my Brook mittens let the wind in through the thumb-holes. With my thin running tights, I usually wear a wind-breaker double-layer pants... again, fighting the wind.

    I count all runs in temperatures less than 10 degrees as double. Congrats on your 16 mile run!! (also, my husband tells me that cold-weather runs burn a ton more calories because your body is trying to keep you warm at the same time.)

    Enjoy your shower!

  2. I don't know how you northerners do it!! You're a beast! (In a good way of course!)