I think I just heard the Greenville running community collectively groan. The meterologists have been talking about an “arctic front” heading our way, and the overnight lows for the next several days will be in the teens. Now, I’m not saying this isn’t cold. In fact, the predicted 12* low on Friday night could very well be the coldest the temperature South Carolina has ever shown me. Brr.
It could, however, be worse. The predicted high in my hometown tomorrow is 16*. The overnight low will be “2* and blustery” …which, roughly translated, means “you don’t even want to know the windchill, people.” I’m sure it’s much, much colder than that right now in Alaska…or Russia…or Antarctica…or on the moon. Cold is mostly about what you’re used to.
So that’s why, when there’s talk of “artic fronts” and “cover your delicate plants” and whatnot, my response is “eh, whatever.” Because even though I’ve lived in South Carolina for three and a half years, and if I was magically transported back to the midwest for a run tomorrow I’d have a hard time accomplishing it, the experience of running in a midwest winter is etched into my memory. Recalling the ice, the snow, the frozen hair, the white fingers, the wicked windchill…those things make me feel grateful. Or if not grateful, accepting. Or, if not grateful, resigned. And sympathetic for our Kansas friend who’s training for the marathon with us. Hang in there, T!
And hang in there, Greenville! Here are a few tips that have helped me in winters past:
- It’s all about layers. I find that dryfit is the best “first” layer, because a sweaty cotton shirt next to your skin will only make you colder. If it’s windy, you’ll want a windbreaker on top to keep the wind from cutting right through you. And if it’s wet, less is sometimes better than more. For example, don’t wear a hooded sweatshirt out to run in the rain. It’ll weigh you down while making you colder, which is a pretty bad combo.
- Be conscious of the wind. If it’s breezy, try to tailor your course accordingly. Say you’re running an “out and back” course. It’s better to have the “out” into the wind and the “back” with the wind. You don’t want to get all warm and cozy (and sweaty) on the first half of the route and turn around to realize that you have a 20mph headwind the whole way home. Now you’re wet and tired, and fighting the wind the whole way back will be unpleasant.
- Put something on your head. Everybody knows you lose a lot of heat out of the top of your head. Find what’s comfortable for you. I like fleece headbands. (Fleece because it’s not scratchy like wool, headbands because they work better with pony tails and caps make me too warm.)
- If in doubt, treadmill it out. If the cold really makes you cringe, the machine runners love to hate may be for you.
- Everyone’s individual. RB and ME will probably show up to today’s run wearing tights or sweatpants, two to three layers of shirts, gloves, and headbands. I’m planning on wearing shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. And maybe a headband. Who’s right? Everybody. You have to figure out what works best for you.