Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Running

Tonight was the first of what I call Winter Runs. What is different about a winter run? Well, besides the temperatures, quite a bit.

As you probably already know, I like to run after work. It is a routine for me and I can get it done before I see the princesses. The problem at this time of the year is that when I start, about 4:45PM, it is already mostly dark, all dark if it is cloudy out. This is where the winter running becomes a problem at times. Up here in Wisconsin, we get this stuff called snow. If you don't know what that is, it is a very cold white substance made from water frozen on its way back to earth from clouds. While snow is mostly OK when running, it is when it melts and re-freezes into ice where the problems can occur. Ice can be very slippery. 2 years ago on a run, I found some ice and slid to the side cutting up my leg as it found some jagged ice and last year, I found some ice hidden under some snow and went head over heals (literally) and screwed up my back and almost broke my wrist.

Why run outside in the winter then? For one, I don't have a treadmill and two, I have no desire to run on a treadmill. I actually like like running outside in the winter time, you just have to be careful out there. When running around possible ice, you have to run more tentatively and be more sure of your steps. You watch the road more looking for ice or maybe that reflection of lights that could indicate ice ahead.

Another small problem is running over snow drifts or other snow in the road. While typically it is not slippery enough to make you slip and fall, it does stick to the bottom of your shoes and that makes stepping uncomfortable or unusual. What usually happens then is a quick scuffing of the shoe across the road to remove the snow, that is until the next pile of snow you run into and the process starts all over again.

There are the usual and obvious things about winter running that even people who do not get much (or any) snow encounter. The cold, or as it seems to me in some parts of the country, the not as warm. The key here is to wear layers. It was 20F out on my run today and I wore 1 long sleeve T-shirt and 2 short sleeve T-shirt (as well and a reflective vest, no warmth there). I also wore some running tights, something that can give me quite a few odd glaces and comments from co-workers as I leave for a run. I know some of you put on the running tights when it hits 45F out, I prefer to wait until it is about 25F before they go on, depending on the windchill. As far as I am concerned, there is no need for expensive running gear. No need for that expensive running jacket and gloves that do nothing more than tshirts and a nice pair of short ankle socks.

I did get in 5 miles tonight at 8:38 pace over my hills loop I run during the winter. It is though a wooded neighborhood which is nice to run this time of year. I enjoyed seeing all the Christmas Lights on the houses and seeing what displays were new or different this year. I was by myself tonight as Mike had to get home early. No problems and an very nice run. I like these nights. After a half mile, I wasn't cold at all and even built up a small sweat by 2 miles.

We are in store for a snow storm tomorrow so I will have to deal with that snow sticking to the show thing tomorrow night. I will enjoy running in the falling snow but won't enjoy the shoveling of it later that night and next morning. My snow blower is broken so back to the old fashion way. It is going to stay cold here for awhile. The forecast calls for a cold Saturday with a low Friday night of 11F or so and a high of only 29F so that means a long run at about 15F or so.

Bring on the winter running, just don't bring on the falls.

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