Living in Minnesota, where it is winter anywhere from 4-7 months out of the year, as a runner you have two choices, either put the miles on the treadmill or brave the cold. I usually do a combination of both, I definitely prefer to run outside but I do not really mind running on the treadmill and it gets cold outside here in MN. I would say that as cold as -20 Fahrenheit is what I could safely run in, however, my ambition generally is limited to about 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus there is all of the fuss of running outdoors in the winter, not only do you have to worry about staying warm but not getting too warm and staying hydrated. Staying hydrated is sometime difficult in the winter due to the cold you don't really feel dehydrated or thirsty. Trust me you are using just as much water as you normally are, just look at your breath as you breath into the cold air, can you see it? Guess what that is the moisture leaving your body, so you do still need to drink plenty of liquids when running in the cold.
This past two Saturdays I have been going on long runs of 32 and 38 miles so there is certainly some planning involved. Here is a check list of things that I needed to make sure were ok to go before heading out.
- Safe route to Run
- Adequate bathroom stops
- Adequate water stops
- Places to stop for fuel or bring enough with me
- Enough cold weather gear to keep me warm during the run
- Base layer spandex shorts, under armor t-shirt
- 2 pairs of cold weather soxes
- First layer of tights and second under armor layer long sleeve top
- Second outer tights and second long sleeve t-shirt
- two pairs of gloves, hat and neck warmer
- Outer shell running jacket
- Yak Traks for running on slippery surfaces
- ipod and headphones (what it's a 6+ hour run)
- cell phone
- credit card
- 1 king size snickers
- 2 small bags of home made fudge (thanks Dad)
- 3 gels
- camelpack or hand water bottle with coconut water in them
A good rule of thumb is to dress so that you a slightly cold when you first start out, once you are going your body temp will raise anywhere from 5-10 degrees. It is also very important that the base layer of clothing that is on your skin is a dry-fit material that wicks sweat away from you skin so when you do sweat it will not just freeze on your skin.
Here is a great article form Running Planet on dressing for cold weather running