Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I haven't posted anything here in over 13 months. Sigh. Just busy with the ordinary to be honest - and not really running all that much, unfortunately.

Is it a "running life" when I can manage only 50 miles per month, and even that minor mileage makes my legs hurt?

Of course, living in Minnesota makes running an interesting challenge, due to the full spectrum of seasons we experience here. People I talk to are often aware of the fact that it can be nearly 40 below zero Fahrenheit in the winter here, but suspicious of me for lying when I say it can also hit 100 F in the summer. One nickname for it is "shake and bake" -we shiver in January, and broil in July.
As you can see, the average low in January is in single digits, and the average high in July is in the 80s. of course, the record low and record high surpass those averages.
This time of year, it's shivering season! Speaking of shiver, here's a post-run photo of me a couple of weeks ago - January 13, 2018.
No, it wasn't snowing, that's just condensation from breathing when the ambient temperature is 11 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

Someone viewing this asked me what I wore on my feet in that kind of weather. My answer: shoes.

I wasn't trying to be funny, and maybe it's just me who can do this, but I wear exactly the same socks and shoes whether it's 100F or -30F. And in all temperatures in between. And my feet sweat, throughout that range!

If it's cold and windy, I will admit that my standard nylon mesh uppers on my running shoes allow that cold air to creep in during the first 3 or 4 minutes of my run, and my toes feel a little chilly. But once I'm trucking along, I don't notice it anymore. And when I finish the run, my shoes look a lot like the face mask in this picture: frosty.

Comparatively, I have a lot more trouble keeping my hands warm. What I've learned over the years is that the best approach for me is a base layer glove of moisture-wicking material (thin polypropylene), over which I pull a simple nylon shell mitten. With that combination, my hands will actually sweat during the run, and when I pull of the mitten, that same condensation-turned-to-frost will tumble out.

Some people think I'm crazy for running in such cold weather. But the thing is, I have friends who regularly run in even colder climates! As long as I'm layered properly, and visible, it's fine. By visible, the main point is that I generally run in the early morning hours, and here in Minnesota it's as dark as night. I wear a headlamp, which also has a blinking red light affixed to the back of the head strap, and I wear reflective gear including a lightweight reflective vest. At that early hour, car drivers are simply not thinking about a runner - they are just commuting to work (generally) and in a hurry. I need to be seen, so I need to light up in the dark.

One last tip: I slather petroleum jelly on that little bit of exposed skin near my eyes. It helps prevent frostbite, and also helps keep my eye lashes from freezing together when I blink. I kid you not. It's happened to me, and it's such a strange sensation - you can't open your eyes! I've had to stop, pull off my gloves, and rub my eyes back open. However, when my lashes are greased up, it never happens. Fore-warned is fore-armed, as they say.

Safe running my friends!

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