Preparing Mentally to Run Outside When It’s Cold, Wet, and Dark

After an October where I repeatedly checked the weather app, saw a little sun shining down on a flawless 65-degree day, and maniacally donned a pair of shorts to breeze through my morning run, November has hit me like a ton of bricks. For the past two weeks, it’s been nothing but chilly mornings and unexpected drizzles. Last Saturday, the cashier at my grocery store warned me it could snow. I grew up in New England, so you’d think I’d be used to the annual departure from balmy to blizzard — I am not.

This year, however, I am determined to overcome my aversion to the cold and avoid the gym as much as possible. While I’m not planning to start training for Boston until January, I’m already beginning to worry about how a treadmill could affect my stride and shins. To prepare for my personal challenge — complete quality workouts, despite a killer wind chill — I’ve decided I need to invest in some more legitimate running outwear. Here’s what I’ve got on my wishlist:

Jacket that’s not too hot, not too cold

 

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Doesn’t she look athletic and comfortable? I bet she’s never even seen a treadmill. Image from nike.com

 

Last winter, on really cold weekends, I pulled on my old EMS microfill down jacket to make sure I didn’t get hypothermia. It worked like a charm until I would start to sweat; since the jacket has zero breathability, my sweat would just culminate until I was decently damp. Sorry, terrible image. This Nike jacket is insulated in the front, but the back and side are made to be breathable — so maybe I’d be able to stop for a stretch without my body temperature dropping 10 degrees.

Tights that won’t feel like actual tights

 

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Yeah same, my abs also look this great. Photo from lululemon.com

 

Not all running tights are the same — some are toasty warm, while others feel more akin to the ones I wear when I’m trying to make a skirt more appropriate in February. My legs tend to feel much more comfortable in cold weather than my torso, but that doesn’t mean my muscles don’t tighten up when it drops below freezing. I’m really digging these Lululemon tights, even if the reviews aren’t phenomenal (there’s talk of them pilling). As long as the ‘thermal’ part works, I’m down.

Next level crazy traction

 

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These would make me look/feel so legit. Get at me Outside Mag. Photo from icebug.com

 

Last winter, I ran multiple times in the snow. My parents told me I was insane, but that’s kind of the point of all this, so I wasn’t deterred. Running while snow is lightly falling is actually beyond lovely: you don’t get wet like you do with rain, you usually have the road to yourself, and it’s fantastically beautiful. However, the traction is tricky — and by tricky I mean dangerous, and possibly injury-inducing. That’s why I’m looking to invest in a pair of trail runners that are specialized for the snow. My college teammate was from Montana, and she used Icebugs when the roads got rough. They’re more expensive than my usual running shoes, but I think they’d be worth it on snow days.

My hope is that come the hard months of winter, I’ll be ready to run no matter what the weather report says. But, as with this wish list, I know I can’t always get what I want.

 

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