Monday, January 6, 2014

Cold Weather Running Gear

Snow Running
I spent the last week of 2013 running trails in the snow (and following deer tracks off-trail) in Upstate, New York. It is much easier running at home on the Old Croton Aqueduct than it is Upstate, since the aqueduct is almost completely flat. You can get a couple of types of running: on 3 inches of snow or less, you get an effect much like running on sand, where your shoes press down the snow; running in deeper snow (like today), running off to the side of the well travelled snow on the trail, is like running in mud, where your quads get the added resistance pulling your feet out of the snow; and running on the already worn trail, with terrain variations from various types of boots, shoes, and skis that have passed on the trail. The last one is okay when the snow is softer, great for strengthening the feet and ankles through variable proprioception; but after a night of freezing, the trodden snow will be icier, and less forgiving. Some gear recommendations for snow running:

Waterproof Trail Running Shoes:
A couple of things you need is a good pair of trail running shoes, preferably waterproof, since your feet would get very cold if the snow entered your shoes and wet your socks. I plan on making a few recommendations for shoes in upcoming posts.

Also, with bitter winds, a balaclava over your head is a good idea, one that can cover your nose and mouth, but where you can push it down if you get too hot.

Front Zip Running Pullover:
I have been using the front zip pullovers made of Merino Wool blends. They come in Lightweight to Thermal thicknesses. It is good to layer, with a dry-fit t-shirt underneath.

Down Vest, Windproof Thermal Jacket, or Light WInd Proof Jacket:
Depending on the windchill and amount of sun, you may be able to get away with more or less. If you wear something that allows the wind through, you can definitely feel it, and probably won't last on longer runs. Also, depending on how much you want to spend, you can invest in Gore-Tex outers that would be waterproof.

If you plan on running in cold and wet weather, you might look into some waterproof gloves. I tend to like the thinner stretchy running gloves, but with chill winds, thicker gloves are always nicer.

Athletic/Sweat Pants, and/or Running Tights:
I find that no matter what type of sweat pants I wear, if it is really cold, there is nothing better than a good pair of running tights as a bottom layer under sweat pants. Gore-Tex is nice if you want waterproof.

Shoe gaiters:
I am trying a couple of different types, and will post reviews of them once I test them out. There are quite a lot, and the online reviews seem to be completely variable, enough that it is hard to tell what will work best for running. Gaiters usually fit over the top of your shoe, with a connecting strap to go under the shoe, and elastic at the top to go over your pants. Some go further up your calf, and it is important not to get ones that are stiff and don't bend (made more for skiing). Some are waterproof and some are water resistant. With waterproof shoes, the only thing that has ever bothered me is if I am running in snow and the snow gets between the shoe and the socks, so the gaiters seem like a good idea...especially for longer runs.

I plan on posting pictures of various types and brands of gear in the next few weeks, so feel free to refer back in time.



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