Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cold-Weather Running and the Unpleasantness of Long Pants

'Tis the season for new-ish runners to determine how much cold they can stand, when we figure out what sort of attire to put on during inclement weather. Is 30 degrees farenheit too cold for shorts? What if it's raining? How many layers do I need.

I recall running outside once or twice when I lived in Chicago a few years ago. But, I don't remember what I wore. I had a pair of track pants back then. So, I'm sure I wore those. But, then, I was a member of a gym. And, if you're a member at a gym in Chicago, that's where you exercise in the winter. Trust me.

Anyway, the drop in temperatures here in central NC these past few weeks has allowed me to experiment with the cold-weather running apparel and layering practices that have eluded me for so long. I mean, really, this is my first winter running in NC. Previous winters here have always coincided with my annual running hiatus.

Salomon Men's Fast III JacketSo, I have this jacket that I purchased from RunningWarehouse a few weeks ago. It's the Salomon Men's Fast III Jacket. I like it. The jacket is incredibly light and breathes as well as we're led to believe.

I wore the Salomon jacket for the first time on a sunny, 45-degree afternoon in strong winds. The base layer was a short-sleeve t-shirt. I was too warm. Either the sun, the temps in the forties, or both were too much for this jacket.

So, the next time I wore this jacket was during one of my morning runs last week. The temps were in the twenties with a real-feel temperature of around eighteen degrees. I wore a long-sleeve tech shirt under the jacket that time. And, it worked out perfectly. I was slightly chilly for the first mile. But, I was more than comfortable for the rest of the run. The tech shirt and the jacket did very well with pulling the perspiration away from my skin so that I didn't freeze in the cold wind.

I haven't tried the jacket in rain yet. Perhaps tomorrow.

Moving on to hats and hands: I wear a pair of Giant cycling gloves for my cold-weather runs, because that's what I happen to have. They're definitely a technical type of fabric that wicks away moisture. So, I'm sure that's helpful. If I didn't have these gloves, I'd experiment with cheaper options before investing in anything fancy.

Gloves are a must for me if it's under thirty-five degrees out there. I can stand not having gloves if it's warmer than that. But, if it's less than forty, my hands are pretty cold for the first couple of miles.

My usual, baseball-hat-style running hat has served me fine in temperatures as low as the mid twenties. It keeps heat in while pulling sweat away. But, its the ears that get ya on cold, dark mornings. So, if it's windy or just super cold, like, in the low-twenties and teens, I wear a ski cap that covers my ears. I don't think it's necessary to invest in a fancy tech hat here, either.

Okay, now we're on to the subject of pants: A runner will never appreciate shorts more than when he has to put on a pair of long pants in order to run outside. Pants are confining.

You'd think this is obvious. But, I certainly hadn't counted on it once the temperatures dropped this year. I have a pair of wind-resistant track pants that I've been running in over the past week. They're a few years old, something I bought at Marshall's. And, I do not like them. (Knowing that, you should take my opinion of running in long pants with a grain of salt) They make a swoosh-swish sound with every step I take, they're an inch too short, and they're only semi-wind-resistant.

Nevertheless, I'm glad I have these long pants when the temperature is below the mid-thirties. And, I'll probably head out to Target soon in order to purchase a cheap pair of quieter track pants. One day, perhaps I'll invest in a pair of running tights. But, my wife's smirk every time she she's a man running in tights pretty much means I'm not allowed to buy them at this point.

Besides, this is North Carolina, after all. How much cold-weather running gear does a runner need?

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