Winter is unofficially here. The actual season may not start until late December, but winter has shown up early with a fury of snow. It’s been quite a few years since the snow has arrived this early and stayed, but it doesn’t appear to be leaving any time soon. A mantra that I continually chant to myself to stay motivated this time of year is “Runners don’t hibernate.” But a mantra is only so useful. Here are some concrete tips to get you outside and enjoying those long winter runs:
- Traction. Shoe traction is a must. I can’t tell you how many times I fell on the ice and bruised my knees and backside before finding shoe traction that worked well for me. Presently, I’m using the Yak Trax Pro. These fit over my shoes and have coil traction on bottom. The velcro strap over the top keeps them from slipping off my shoes as other brands have done in the past. I’m not a huge fan of spikes or chains, but what’s really important is finding the variety that works best for you and your style of running.
- Clothing. The right clothing can make or break a run; this is especially true in the winter. It’s important to wear clothing that keeps you warm and breathes well. I’ve made the mistake of wearing too many layers on a winter run. My sweat FROZE, which is uncomfortable and dangerous on those long runs. Look for material that is moisture-wicking, especially for your base layer. The top layer should be water proof. For pants, I wear long running tights. A have a couple of pairs that are thicker than my traditional running tights. Again, these should be moisture-wicking as well.
- Face Mask. Having a face mask has changed my life. The winter winds in Northern Michigan are insane and they are unbearable to the naked skin. I have the Under Armour Reactor Run Balaclava. What I especially love about this face mask is that you can pull the front part up and down with ease for when you need fresh air.
- Gloves. Gloves, mittens, whatever tickles your fancy. I have mittens with removable fingers similar to these. Strangely enough, after a few miles my hands tend to overheat. However, if I take my gloves off completely, I’ll freeze. The removable fingers are crucial to my comfort during winter runs.
- Be seen. This is probably the most important thing to remember. Days are short AF in the winter. And the little daylight we get is often gray-ish with no sunshine. To stand out in all those winter grays, where bright colors, reflective gear, and fasten lights to you in any way possible. I have a ‘highlighter yellow’ hat with lights built into it. I love this thing. I don’t have to worry about carrying a flashlight and it’s a an easy button to push to turn the lights on. I also have many blinking lights I can fasten to my clothing with ease. My favorite store, Running Fit, has an entire section dedicated to safety and visibility gear.