Cool Mama

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Self-portrait along the running trail

Self-portrait along the running trail

I prefer running on early summer mornings, when the ground is dry and the insects and manure trucks are still sleeping. But since those conditions aren’t available year round, my second favorite time to run is when the trail is crunchy, the fields are white, and a light snow is falling as the sun sets, at 3pm.

Don’t let sideways sleet or high winds stop you from running. As long as there aren’t any Kansas farm houses whirling around out there, you should be fine.

The real key to running in winter is to have the right gear. You don’t have to spend a fortune on this, but a few good items will help you get out the door, rather than play it safe on the treadmill, a contraption which, in my opinion, should only be used during emergencies like hurricanes.

Here’s what I wear:

  • Bullet-proof socks: Actually, I’ve never tried shooting at them, but these neoprene socks are soft and cozy on the inside, and weather-proof on the outside. With these, I can wear my favorite running shoes year-round and keep my feet dry. My shoes get soaked, but my feet stay warm.

  • Bullet-proof mask: Again, nobody has shot at me while I wear this, but this balaclava with neoprene mask really keeps the wind out of my face. The neoprene means that while the mask might get damp from the moisture of my breath, it doesn’t cling to my face, whereas my Merino Buff feels like I’m suffocating on a sheep when I inhale.

  • Identity-Crisis Mitten/Gloves: While I wouldn’t wear Nike running shoes if they paid me like a basketball star, the company does occasionally put out something useful, like lightweight gloves that have mitten flaps and are surprisingly perfect. I wore these glove/mittens during my 50 degree, pouring rain July marathon in Bavaria, and I wore them the other day on a 12 mile, 20 degree, snow-in-your-face run. Even my pinky fingers stayed warm.

  • Supersuit: Definition: “Something that turns inside-out when you peel it off after your run.” A super suit must be tight, because any draft of air that touches your skin will make you cold. If you don’t have a super suit, get one. You’ll feel really awesome wearing it.

  • Sweater: when the temps are 40 degrees or above, a running ‘sweater’ over my super suit is perfect. I wear my Adidas ‘Tron’ shirt. It’s not really called ‘Tron,’ but the glow-in-the-dark piping begs the description.

  • Softshell: When it’s below 40, I toss on my UnderArmor soft-shell. I was a lot bigger when I bought it, so it can be kind of airy in there. But the extra space means I can wear my hydration pack under it, so the water doesn’t freeze. I also have a pair of ski pants in a soft-shell material, which are perfect for extremely cold temps.

  • YakTrax: These are a must on the icy, snowy roads, and if the pavement suddenly clears, they are easy to take off and shove in your pockets. Plus, they feel sproingy. (*New word, I know).

  • Warm Hat: My favorite is the Gore running cap, much like a swim cap, only soft. But when it’s below 30, I wear something thicker over the balaclava.

  • Neon Vest: to distinguish you from deer, if there are men with guns in the fields.

Motivation: Why You Should Run During Winter

  • You can eat more Christmas cookies, without guilt

  • Because post-run hot tea never tasted so good

  • Vitamin D is best taken in its natural state

  • You will have the farm roads to yourself

  • Your heart rate will be incredibly high–especially if you are punching through shin-deep snow

  • You might see deer on a snowy hill and pink clouds at sunset

  • You can scare your kids when you burst through the door while wearing your facemask

  • Overcoming challenges is addictive

  • Regular running boosts your immune system

  • During the crazy holiday season, you need time to chill (*Irresistible pun)

  • Your kids will think you’re cool (*Sorry, I couldn’t help it)

I hope that you won’t let the elements stop  you from enjoying the out-of-doors, even in winter. Even if you hate it at first (it is never ‘easy,’ after all), make it a habit to run outside and pretty soon, you’ll feel like you can’t do without it. It is especially important during this time of year, battling stress and the winter blues, to make it a point to get outside.

If I can do it, you can too!

Happy Running!

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4 responses »

    • It is just a random generic store brand from a sporting goods place here in Germany–and I think it was meant for skiers, but it seems to do the job. Thanks for your kind words–I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog!

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