Winter is coming. The air outside is cool and crisp, and smell of chimney smoke and fallen leaves surrounds me on my morning runs. As the temperature continues to plummet towards zero and the first snowflakes fill the air, many runners will head indoors like bears readying themselves for hibernation after the last turkey trot is over. But, the heartiest of runners celebrate the return of winter. They know that the cold, dark days of winter running produce epic race times in the spring.
I’ve gathered a few of the top running bloggers from the Northeast and asked them to share their winter running expertise. Tim Jones, Angel Bekkala, and Chris Russell are all seasoned vets with race experience covering every distance from track events to 50-mile ultras. They’ll share their secrets on staying warm, staying safe, and having fun all winter long.
Where are you from? What’s the winter like there?
Tim Jones: TheRunningJones.com
Philadelphia suburbs. Last winter we had a ton of snow and many very cold mornings with a few runs in zero degree weather.
Angela Bekkala: HappyFitMama.com
Seacoast of New Hampshire. Snow and cold December through March usually.
Chris Russell: RunRunLive.com
Suburbs of Boston. The winter is long, dark and cold with snow up to your eyebrows.
What is your favorite piece of winter running gear?
My GORE-TEX Saucony Ride 8 GTXs are my current favorite piece of winter gear. Last year I ran through snow, slush, rain, and many very cold and windy days in my Ride 7 GTXs and my feet stayed warm and dry.
My favorite piece of running gear is the Saucony Run Mitts. My hands are always cold and even more so when running in the winter. These are the only pair of mittens that have kept my hands nice and warm while running even in frigid temps with below zero wind chills.
I think I’d have to go with my thick winter tights from UA. They keep your legs warm from Derry to Stu’s and feel great and permit normal range of motion and performance.
Do you have any tricks to stay warm during winter training runs?
I put Vaseline on my face and wear multiple layers. I also like to wear thick wool socks and a good hat that covers my ears.
This one is for the ladies (sorry guys!). Wear a running skirt over your running tights. Your buns will stay toasty!
Not really. I’m partial to a hooded fleece pullover with lots of room, long sleeves, wind block panel and half-zip. This way I can layer up and make adjustments to the weather en route. For example that time we ran the Martha’s vineyard 20 Miler in -3 degrees with a stiff wind. When you can put up the hood and cinch it when it gets super cold and pull your hands into the sleeves. When it gets hot you can drop the hood and unzip. Good versatile garment.
Another trick I’ll use on training runs is to fill my bottles with hot water.
How do you stay safe running on winter roads?
I wear reflective clothing and a powerful headlamp when it’s dark. I also stay mostly on trails and away from car traffic as much as possible. I’ll never run on roads if visibility is poor.
With winter running, I usually wear bright clothes so I’m more visible against the snow. When the snowbanks get high and the roads become more narrow, I head to roads that are less traveled so I don’t have to fight traffic and fear for my life around every corner. When it’s really icy, I hit the treadmill.
You really have to make good calls and pay attention. One thing that you really need to watch out for in the winter is the sun glare in the drivers’ eyes – know when they can’t see you. You’re not going to win an argument with a car so be prepared to hop into the snow bank.
What’s your favorite part of running during the winter months?
My favorite part of winter running is doing a long run on snowy trails in Valley Forge National Park with a group of friends on fresh snow. This happened a lot last winter!
My favorite part of running during the winter months are the early morning runs when the world is quiet except for the crunching sound of snow under my feet. And the lashicles and browsicles that come from running in sub zero temps make me feel pretty bad ass too.
I just love those cold, crisp January mornings, or nights when the stars are out and the air is dry a crisp and the silence is deafening. It’s beautiful.
Awesome winter running advice from the experts. Thanks Tim, Angela, and Chris! Take a look at what they have been up to lately…