With temperatures in the 20s and 30s most mornings here in Portland, my 3-mile runs have become, um, less than enjoyable lately. But thanks to my post on this very topic a few weeks ago and the feedback from a few readers, I’m slowly getting the hang if this whole cold-running thing.
First and foremost, I took one reader’s advice and got a pair of these (thanks Brian!):
Although nothing quite allows for the “barefoot running” experience like the Vibram FiveFingers toe shoes, these trail shoes called “The One” by a company named Altra are the next best thing. I’ve tried the Nike Free and the New Balance Minimus and neither of those allowed me to run comfortably with a ball-of-the-foot strike, which is essential to the barefoot running benefits. The Altra shoes have what is a called a “wide toe box” which allows your toes to spread out more evenly in the shoe as they would naturally if you were running barefoot. This toe box also encourages the ball strike as your feet hit the pavement. The soles are nice and thin with minimal traction and padding (by the way, if you had asked me five years ago if I ever wanted a running show that was described as having minimal anything, I would have told you “no way, the more support/padding/etc the better!” Times have changed). And they keep my feet way, WAY warmer than my Vibrams. Yes!
I’ve also become a master at layering workout gear. A t-shirt goes on, then a long-sleeved tech shirt, and finally a zip-up fleece or my lightest windbreaker if it’s raining. I purchased a super-thin, super-light waterproof jacket for our Asia travels which has worked out quite well for me up here in the Pac Northwest.
Just recently, I also invested in heavier-weight running tights that stand up to the cold which has helped immensely. Then, I top everything off with some fuzzy gloves and a beanie and voila, I am cold-weather running ready. The beanie is ESSENTIAL because a regular ball cap doesn’t protect my ears and lemme tell ya, sometimes those things feel like they might freeze right off. I like to tell myself I burn a few extra calories from all the extra clothing weight I’m carrying. That makes sense, right?
One thing I have to be more careful of in the cold is really watching my low symptoms. Just like any distraction, cold weather can make you not notice when you’re dropping. When you’re freezing, it’s easy to focus on that feeling and ignore the typical low symptoms which can already be hard to read while running (because sweating, fatigue, and lightheadedness can all be low symptoms, and they can also be symptoms of running. Fun huh?) This has prompted me to take my CGM with me on almost all my runs. Normally I only take it along when I’m running over three miles but lately it’s been a peace-of-mind thing in this cold weather.
Now that I’m getting the cold-weather sports thing down, maybe it’s time to train for a Portland Half Marathon? No better way to see a city!