Cold Weather Running

Holiday Fun Runs

By Elizabeth Eckhart

It seems the days when it took an elite athlete and months of training to even consider running a full marathon are gone. Now, it is almost impossible to drive through any moderately sized city and not see a window sticker proudly proclaiming, 13.1 or 26.2. Races have evolved as well, from basic courses to themes and events. Runners can choose and are encouraged to run in costumes, mud, and even get sprayed with color along the route. Especially during the holiday season, one glance through your Facebook news feed will show someone who decide to forgo the after dinner nap in front of the television in favor of a nice chilly run.

For those of us who might be interested in participating in a holiday fun run, but may not be up to speed on what is available, let's explore some of the famous and most popular options for pounding the pavement this holiday season.

The Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis is a fun themed 5k race that happens across the country in December. Major cities include Portland, Or, Fort Worth, TX, and New York City. Participants dress up in their favorite holiday costume, whether it be reindeer antlers or ugly Christmas sweaters, and tie jingle bells to their shoe laces to raise both money and holiday spirit as they run.

If you happen to be near the Big Apple this holiday season, New York City Runs offers several different races throughout the winter, including the Frozen Bonsai Half Marathon, a race through Central Park, the Brrr-ooklyn Half Marathon, which will be offering hot cocoa and snacks at the finish line, and The Empire State Building Run-Up, a warmer race in which participants run up the tower's 86 flights of stairs.

The Santa Shuffle (or Santa Hustle, depending on your location) is another popular theme for 5k’s, 10k’s, or 15k’s that offer runners dressed in warm Santa suits candy along the route and cookies and cider at the finish line. Proceeds from this event go to various charities; for example, the Santa Shuffle in Wisconsin will donate to local food pantries and participants are asked to bring canned food for a food drive. CBS Sports, WGN, and even the Travel Channel (click here for provider info) have been known to take an interest in the Santa Hustles, so be sure to wave to the cameras during this run!

Run Disney is also a great choice if you want a holiday run, but don't relish the thought of doing it in 20 degrees with snow drifted around you. Disney provides its Disney Marathon Week every January and February, offering themes such as Star Wars and Disney Princesses, Neverland and Tinker Bell. Run Disney also offers children's races so that the entire family can participate in the fun.

If you do opt to participate in one of these chilly runs, it is important to remember to prepare appropriately for the weather conditions. Dress warmly, but not too warm, guidelines often suggest dressing as if it is 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. You should be slightly cool when you start, since your body will warm up as you run.

A waterproof windbreaker would also be a good idea to protect you from rain and wind. One place not to skimp on the dressing is your feet. Opt for waterproof shoes with gore tex uppers instead of the lightweight mesh that a runner might normally choose. Keeping your feet dry and warm will help to ensure you have a more enjoyable time during your run.

Before the run, be sure to warm up; if you're waiting for a running buddy, don't just sit in your car, get out and move around. During the run, pace yourself, cold air is hard on your lungs and you may not have the endurance that you normally have in nice weather. Post run, be sure to get out of any sweaty clothes and warm yourself up quickly with whatever treats the race organizers have provided!

Running in the Rain

Spring is lurking around the corner which means rainy days are already upon us. Instead of heading into the gym for a cross training day or the treadmill, zip up that rain jacket and show the rain who's boss.  We promise, you won't regret it. Jessica gives us a few reasons to head out despite the weather.

RACE DAY PREPARATION: It's preparation for unexpectated (or expected) race conditions. I'll never forget waking up on the morning of my first marathon and it was snowing! Eventually, the snow turned to heavy rain by the time I arrived at the start - and it never stopped the enitre race. Thank goodness I was prepared! 

EMPTY ROUTES: Chances are you'll get the city or your running route all (or almost all) to yourself.  Heavy rain sends the crowds to the gym and leaves you with your own personal playground.  Enjoy it.

EMPOWERMENT: Battling sloppy weather conditions makes us stronger and empowers us.  Finish a good workout in the rain and you'll feel like a million bucks (or definitely after a warm shower!).

AN EXCUSE FOR GEAR!: It's an excuse to buy flashy and weatherproof running gear. Running gets better in the right gear. Check out this Runner's World article on running jackets for the rain.  Don't forget a hat and gloves if it's cold out there not just wet.  You also might want to designate a pair or two of your running shoes to wet, muddy run days.  

If you're already a rain runner, then we commend you.  If you haven't tried it out, we recommend taking the next rainy day as an opportunity to try something new.  You never know, you just might get hooked!  


Running in the Snow

If you live in a cold climate, chances are, you'll be dealing with training and snow at least a few times this winter. Snowy conditions can be tricky, however, if you dress appropriately, have a good attitude and take the necessary precautions, you can still get your training in when it's snowing or there's snow on the ground.

Here are our tips for running in the snow:

1) Keep your hands and feet warm. Wear gloves that wick away moisture. Mittens are a good choice on really cold days because your fingers will share their body heat. We recommend using hand warmers in your gloves or mittens. Wear a thin sock liner to keep your feet nice an toasty. If your feet and hands are cold, the rest of you will be cold!

2) Protect your head. About 40% of you body heat is lost through your head! Wear a hat to stay warm. If it's snowing, wear a hat with a brim to keep the snow out of your face. We recommend that you wear a beanie underneath for comfort and to keep your head extra warm.

3) Wear trail sneakers. They have more traction and are usually more waterproof than regular sneakers. These are a good investment if you have to run on snow a lot (plus, you have an excuse to get off the pavement and onto the dirt come spring time!)

4) Check temperature and wind chill. If the wind is strong, it will penetrate your clothes and cut through the insulating layer of warm air around you. If the temperature is below zero or the wind chill is below negative 20, opt for the treadmill.

5) Dress appropriately. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it's 10 degrees warmer than it really is outside. You will warm up within 10 minutes of running. If you warm when you start, you will begin to sweat early in your run.