_ Dear Winter Runner,
Please don’t go out and spend a lot of money on cold-weather clothes.
You can comfortably run in clothes sitting in your closet right now.
That is, as long as you don’t end up like my friend Bils, from Flint, Michigan, who runs in a bright red toboggan, red sweatpants and a red 49ers sweatshirt. (“Well,” he says, “red’s my favorite color!”)
In this article, I’ll give you a few tips for gearing up for the cold at a reasonable cost without insulting your good fashion sense.
Pants are the single most important article
They’re also the most overused piece of running equipment. You should only get into pants when the temperature (or wind chill) gets below 40 degrees.
Come race day, you’ll be better having taught your legs to tolerate a moderate chilliness. Give it a try, and you’ll find that the running motion warms your legs up in just a few minutes.
When the weather turns from cool to cold, though, you need pants. True running pants cost around $60, and that’s not a bad purchase for an everyday runner. Look for HIND pants on sale.
Another good option is leggings or tights under your regular shorts. That’s popular, though not my first choice. But if you dig tights, by all means.
When it comes to short runs up to 45 minutes, any old pair of athletic pants, like sweats or “swishy” pants will work. Yale’s top cross-country runner from a few years back was notorious for running in his raggedy high school team sweats.
Everything else: You already own them, so you might as well use them
That goes for socks, shoes, shirts, winter hats, and gloves. If new clothes motivate you to go exercise, then don’t let me get in your way. However, if you’re looking for comfort, affordability, and practicality, you need look no farther than your closet.
A long sleeve shirt by itself works all the way down to about 40 degrees. When the temp is 25-40 degrees, wear a cotton t-shirt over the long sleeves. If it’s much colder, or if you’re facing bitter wind, consider a light jacket.
With gloves and socks start with light pairs, and if temperatures are extremely low, you can double up. With hats, anything works. If you’re in the northern States or Canada, you might pick up a ski mask for the extreme days.
Again, you probably already have these clothes. If you don’t, find them at Target or Wal-Mart.
To close, a winter’s tale
If you’ve done some winter running, you’ll appreciate this story.
I ran with some buddies, Perry and Powers, one winter day in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The temperature was around 10 degrees. The wind chill was probably negative. Powers was used to the cold and had plenty of proper gear, including a ski mask.
Perry and I, sadly, were somewhat less prepared. We wore toboggans and thin gloves and hoped to tough it out. We ran 20 minutes out, and as we went out into the wind, snow started dumping pretty heavily.
As we turned back, it was a veritable blizzard. We could hardly see in any direction. “Can you see anything, Perry?" I asked.
“No!” was all he said.
Luckily, we were on a straight dirt road and finally made it back.
My bangs had turned to icicles, but I was in pretty good shape compared to Perry. Poor guy’s eyelashes had frozen shut! No wonder he couldn’t see! He sat against the wall in misery until his lashes thawed. I think he would have cried, but the tears had no place to escape.
That was the coldest run I’ve ever been on. What about you? I’d love to hear your winter stories. Post them below!