Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Winter Rule Book

All you booze-runners in the tropics can stop reading now. You have no need to know what you need to run in the cold. Unless you're planning a weekend getaway to the North Coast. In which case, you might want to consider sobriety. No, this post is for all of you snow angels out there. The Ice Viper is kind enough to dispense his wisdom of running in the winter.

And just to get this out of the way, I'm a total cheapskate when it comes to buying running gear. I went through a phase where I wanted to buy flashy, name-brand, runner-specific technical clothing. But I'm over that. So, you'll also find some cheap solutions to your running needs.

Now, onto the rules. I ain't suggesting shit! Abide or freeze.

Rule No. 1: Cover your ass. The nether regions are sensitive. You definitely don't want frostbite or windburn on, in or near your wang or yin-yang. This is the first area to receive an extra layer. During the summer, I run ... free spirited. Now, I wear shorts over tights over undies. When it gets colder, I'll add pants.

Rule No. 2: Handle the cold. Hands hold onto heat, but they don't need much insulation. Just a little protection from the wind. A pair of canvas gloves will do. I wear these Stanley work gloves I bought at the grocery store for $3. Gardening gloves also do the job.

Rule No. 3: Put a lid on it. Your head regulates your body temperature as much as your hands. Get yourself a stocking hat that you can roll up without too much bulk. That way you can adjust your covering depending on how warm you feel. Roll it down to cover your ears and neck or let it ride high when you're toasty.

Rule No. 4: Layers. I like to be a little cool when I run, so I don't wear too much. However, my daddy done told me to add a layer for each five degrees below 40 (that's Fahrenheit, people). Layer from the center out. Your base layer should cover your skin and wick away sweat. Moist skin plus wind chill equals icicles on your nipples. I wear two technical shirts before adding something that will absorb sweat. I have recently become a vest convert -- perfect for keeping the core warm and great for layering. Don't worry too much about your legs, they'll warm up.

Rule No. 5: Stay dry and light, layers part 2. Choose dry over insulation. Trust that running will keep you warm. Insulation is counter-productive to the runner. It adds bulk. It soaks up sweat, therefore adding weight. The sweat remains close to the body and will start to freeze in the wind. Wicking material and windbreakers will serve you far better than insulation.

Rule No. 6: Sight and sightability. Or see and be seen. Snow reflects light like whoa. Find some sunglasses. However, you'll need some defogging solution. I also hear that shaving cream works. And if you run on the roads, don't blend in. Be dark during the day and bright at night. Contrast is your friend. My other vest lights me up pretty good, but I'm also considering lights -- either flashing red lights or a headlamp. And if your clothes doesn't reflect or light up, at least wear white.

Rule No. 7: Warm the cockles. You're bound to feel a little chilly after a long winter run. Make sure you have something waiting at home to warm you up. And nothing warms your insides better than hard liquor. Winter is Scotch season for the Viper. However, cognac, brandy, Irish whisky and bourbon also have known warming qualities.

Viper's Must-Have Winter Running Gear:
  • Long sleeve technical shirts, plural, as in, more than one.
  • Tights -- No spandex for Viper. I wear what are basically athletic (i.e. wicking) long-johns made by Champion, $12 at Target.
  • Gloves, my hands are more important than my head.
  • Laphroaig, the good people from the Isle of Islay know a thing or two about keeping warm.
  • Beard, it's cheap insulation and specifically designed for the face.
Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments. I won't pay any attention.

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