just go {cold, gear, quick recap}

We had a few “shorts” mornings last week in NYC (running-wise, not normal life-wise…), but now the cold is back! And I don’t hate it. Ask me this again in mid-February, but cold-weather running can be really invigorating and fun in a different way than summer running.

I received an email question from Laura the other day about how I stay motivated to run on cold winter mornings, so I thought I’d share. I will preface this with two things:

1). I may or may not be a freak of nature in that I rarely do not want to get up and run.

2). I grew up in Buffalo, NY and therefore am somewhat scarred undeterred by lake effect snow with below zero windchill cold weather.

Even so, I completely understand the perfection that is a nice, warm bed on a winter morning, when it’s not only cold but also dark outside. That’s why I always, always implement rule #1 as soon as I wake up: don’t think, just go. This gem comes from my old gymnastics coaches (Kurt and Lisa – holla!) because it really comes in handy when you’re standing at the edge of the beam thinking about how that backhandspring, layout step-out could go terribly wrong instead of just doing it already.

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“crotching” the beam is exactly how it sounds and quite unpleasant

Case in point – there was a freezing rain situation happening this morning and I all but convinced myself to do yoga and not run (and therefore break the #RWRunStreak). But after yoga, my if I say I’m going to do something, I do it self got dressed, but a baseball cap on and went outside for a few easy miles before the self that was warm inside the apartment could protest.

I run almost every morning, and think it helps that I’m pretty much on auto-pilot as soon as the alarm goes off. I’m so used to doing what I’m doing, I don’t really think about weather other than when getting dressed because chances are, I’m going to run in it anyways.

That said, having the right stuff to wear can definitely work wonders in the winter. Here are some of my go-tos:

Tights: fleece or non-fleece lined, depending on temperature and “real feel” windchill. Usually if it’s above freezing I’ll go with the normal tights, and if it’s 25-26 or below I’ll pick the fleece. These fleece tights from Sugoi are nice and warm, super comfortable and not too pricey.

Top layers: I think I wear less than most on top because I tend to get really hot. Usually it’s a race tech long sleeve with either a tank or another tech long sleeve underneath depending on the temperature. If it’s colder than say 25 degrees, I’ll bring out the warmer fleece jacket – I only have one and it’s about 8 years old. Here are some nice ones from the present time that I like, though:

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most of these are from Sugoi or Craft

If you have a little extra cash, these Craft baselayers are awesome and perfect as a first layer to help keep you warm.

Gloves: warm hands are everything, if you ask me. My hands get really cold and numb (I think I have Reynaud’s), so I usually double up on the gloves to stay warm. These are my favorites because you can use the mitten function or tuck it away in a little pocket.

Socks: not too picky about my socks, but if it’s really cold I’ll wear my Smartwools which are a little extra warm and really comfortable.

Neck warmer: I just got one this year and it makes such a big difference since my layers of long sleeve race tech shirts lack a collar. The one I have is Smartwool, which is super warm, moisture-wicking and soft.

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Headband: for some reason, I just don’t like wearing those beanie hats. Probably due in part to my unruly hair. But, I find headbands work fine to keep my ears toasty and said unruly hair keeps the rest of my head warm. I like this one from Brooks and it comes in all sorts of fun colors.

Hand warmers: for winter long runs when carrying fluids is needed, I usually have a hand warmer between my hand and the water bottle, which works wonders as water bottles get super cold when it is below freezing.

Besides not really thinking about the cold and having the right stuff, the other things that get me out the door in the winter are:

  • Goals – (cough BQ cough) they won’t get accomplished from that nice warm bed
  • How much better I’ll feel when I get home – always
  • Meeting a running buddy – mainly Betsy. When someone else is depending on you to be at a certain place at a certain time, it helps to get out the door
  • Coming home to a hot breakfast and/or cup of coffee – sometimes I tell myself over and over how glorious this will be while out on the roads and it really does help!
  • Thinking of how pretty the sunrise will be and how much I don’t want to miss it – cheesy but true

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can’t beat that

Of course it’s not all rainbows and puppies, and those slippery runs with tiny ice pellets cutting into your face in 40MPH wind gusts for 15 miles suck. But so does a long run in 80 degrees with 90% humidity, so we just have to adapt to the conditions at hand.

Quick recap on this week’s running:

  • Monday: 3 miles easy, yoga
  • Tuesday: 9 miles with 4×1 mile repeats with 2 minutes (jogging) rest in between (7:22, 7:22, 7:20, 7:30), strength (abs, arms)
  • Wednesday: 8 miles easy, strength (legs, abs)
  • Thursday: 8 miles easy, strength (arms, abs)
  • Friday: 5.5 miles easy, 15 minutes yoga for runners
  • Saturday: 11.25 miles with some quick middle miles
  • Sunday: 8 miles easy, strength (abs)

Total: 52.75 miles. Feeling pretty good and looking forward to racing this weekend!

Question: how do you get out of bed to run in the winter? Favorite winter running gear?

*None of the brands/companies above are paying or sponsoring me to say these things, I just really like the products and use them regularly. IMAGINE THAT.

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  • http://www.runforyourlifeblog.com/ Emilia @ Run for Your Life

    I welcome any chance to run in cold weather and I’m thankful that it’s actually been pretty cool for all my long runs since NYCM! Sure, it’s uncomfortable to stand around waiting for a race to start when it’s <40F, but I'll take it over 80F/100% humidity any day. I've been wearing my new Oiselle fleece tights a lot in the past couple of weeks. Definitely worth the splurge. I'm also a fan of Target's Champion long-sleeved base layers, which are about $20 each.

  • Joey

    52+ miles is no joke. Good work! If u decide to BQ. You will.

  • Laura

    Thanks so much for the post! I never regret a workout, but just making myself get up as soon as the alarm goes off can be tough. Thanks for the great post and great tips.

    • MealsforMiles

      thanks for the question!! getting up is half the battle, for sure! :)

  • Shannon

    Can’t believe you logged all those miles, good job!! Call me crazy but I love the cold, must be the Buffalo blood. We don’t get a lot of cold mornings here, so when Amiah woke up Saturday morning and it was only 30 degrees I did what every logical east-coaster (trapped in a desert) would do, bundled her up and went for a run. We had a blast and I felt so invigorated after. There’s something magical about being out on the quiet streets on a cold morning.

    • MealsforMiles

      Hii Shannon, thanks!! Haha, agreed it must be the Buffalo blood. I can’t believe it was 30 degrees there! Must have felt awesome :)

  • Margaret

    This is a great post! I’m with you and Laura. I never regret a workout, but MAN getting up and out the door on a cold morning can be rough! I’m going to have to get used to it though…I’ve got an April marathon!

    • MealsforMiles

      Thanks Margaret! Yesss, April marathon means lots of winter long runs (mine’s in May, so similar). Hopefully it won’t be too bad, though (wishful thinking..)

  • http://runthelongroad.com/ RunTheLongRoad

    +1 for headbands. beanies make my hair puff out even more. and i always use hand warmers. if my hands are cold i will literally cut a run short. it’s the worst.

    i like your * at the bottom of your post. ha ha, a blogger that isn’t shilling free stuff that they could care less about/never use?! imagine that!!!!!!

  • http://www.susanruns.com/ Susan – Nurse on the Run

    I love headbands…how do people fit their hair under their hats?? And if I kept my hair below my hat (if that makes sense?), it would just end up bothering my neck. That being said, I think I might get one of those neck gaiters you showed me…when the cold wind blows, it would definitely be appreciated!

    I’ve had my Under Armor tights since maybe freshman year of college…they’re the best!