This Weather

This winter’s weather has been the pits, and we have another month and a half left until it’s officially Spring. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ready to move!

It's pretty, but I'm over it.
It’s pretty, but I’m over it.

I’ve lived in the Northeast my entire life – born in New York City, raised in New Jersey, attended college in the Poconos, and back to New Jersey. So I’m no stranger to snow, freezing cold temperatures, and minimal daylight. I remember snow days almost every year of school. I specifically remember two outrageous blizzards: one on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (I was annoyed that we already had the day off), and another on Valentine’s Day one year (also annoyed because we missed our classroom party). And I can’t forget the snow days in college that turned into snow keg days. Aside from that, the snow and the cold has been manageable. It’s by no means pleasant or convenient, but I’ve been able to deal with it. However, the last few winters have been abnormal; I found myself running in far fewer layers than one would expect for December and January, there weren’t any snow days, and even though it was cold, it was never that cold. It’s pretty clear I’ve lost my cold and snow tolerance, because this entire winter has been pretty miserable.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so miserable this winter is because of running. I’ve only been a “serious” runner for the last 3 winters, and up until this year, they were mild. Trying to get out the door for a run can sometimes be a struggle for me on a good weather day. Throw in snow, ice, freezing cold temperatures, and a combination of it all, and I really don’t want to run. Sure I could drive to the gym and hop on the treadmill, but there are a few reasons why this is usually my last resort. First, the gym is about a 15-20 minute drive away. If the weather is bad, driving is probably the last thing I want to be doing. Second, when the weather is bad and people can’t workout outside, everyone goes to the gym. I belong to a cheap gym that I use solely for the treadmill, and so does everyone else. I went once when there was freezing rain outside, and there wasn’t even a spot to park in their lot. And third, I would much rather run outside if I can. I know, I know, I live in the Northeast and it’s winter. I should expect these conditions. And don’t get me wrong, I do. But it doesn’t mean I enjoy it!

Snow piles literally as tall as me. Literally.
Snow piles literally as tall as me. Literally.

So what has running been like in this weather? I think my run yesterday really captured it all. After 10+ inches of heavy, wet snow on Monday morning, we had more snow and freezing rain overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. So when I went out for my lunchtime run of 7 miles, I was faced with three surface options: knee-high snow, puddles up to my ankles, or 2-3 inches of slippery slush. I fluctuated between the three and found the slush to be the least offensive (barely). The entire month of January included either more snow, and/or wind chills that brought the “real feel” temperatures into the negatives. This kind of weather week in and week out has definitely been trying on me as a runner (as it has for all runners!) for more than one reason. Like I said, it’s hard to get out the door when it’s so gross outside, but it’s also sometimes hard to accept the paces that you’re running. Yesterday’s run, for example, was supposed to include 2 tempo miles (which I should be running at or below 7:30), and there was no way that was going to happen. I’ve accepted the fact that on days like yesterday, it’s more important that I was out there actually running, and not how fast or slow it was happening. I mean, there were points where I had to hop over snow piles nearly up to my hip!

I basically looked like this while "running" in the snow
I basically looked like this while “running” in the snow. Also, this picture was from last week, before it snowed another 10+ inches… and was “warm”

I’ve just been reminding myself that getting out there and doing something is better than nothing. I whine before the run, and during the run, but once it’s over I’m glad I got out there. I just keep telling myself that these are the runs that will help make me a stronger runner. I’ve also started to visualize running in warmer weather, and remembering the 100+ hot and humid days where I longed for cooler weather. Grass is always greener on the other side, eh? I really need to move somewhere that has a moderate climate – I’m tired of all of these extremes!

Tell me…
What do you do when the weather is crappy by you? Do you still get out there and run? Hit the gym? Home treadmill?

Lovely Layers

I’ve always been a big fan of wearing layers, regardless of the weather. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it stems from the fact that most shirts are a little too short for my extra long torso, and I like the extra coverage of a longer tank-top underneath. But that’s just the beginning of my layering obsession. I never seem to be a comfortable temperature – I’m either too hot or too cold… so layers let me add and remove clothing as needed in order to try and make myself comfortable.

Layers! Oh how I wish I could wear this on a run right now...
Layers! Oh how I wish I could wear this on a run right now…

When it comes to running, I tend to run on the hotter side (pun intended), but with temperatures below 20 and windchill making it feel like 0 or lower, it’s difficult even for me to overheat on a winter run. That being said, I still need to make sure I have enough layers to actually feel warm. And with the temperatures holding steady at about 25 or below the last few weeks (with the exception of a warm spell while I was out of the country, of course), making sure I have the right layers on to stay comfortable while running has been extremely important.

My last few runs have all taken place when the temperature has been between 20-25 degrees, but with windchill it’s been anything from a few degrees negative to about 20 degrees, thanks to that fun little thing called wind chill. I say it every year, and I’ll say it again; if it weren’t for the wind, winter in the Northeast wouldn’t be so bad! So what do I wear for a run when it’s in the teens and even single digits? Let me break it down for you:

Top layers

I like to wear a tank top that has a built in bra when it’s super cold, because it winds up doing double duty. Instead of having to wear a sports bra and tank top, I can kill two birds with one stone. The Oiselle High 10 Shimmel has been my go-to since the fabric is on the thicker side so it keeps me warm but still manages to keep me dry.

Just a few of my favorite tanks!
Just a few of my favorite tanks!

Next up is a mid-weight long sleeve shirt. I am obsessed with Oiselle’s Lux Layer, so I wear it as often as possible. It’s buttery soft and manages to keep you warm when it’s cold, but again, you won’t overheat in it.

Favorite base layers - Oiselle Lux Layer & Oiselle Rundelicious
Favorite base layers – Oiselle Lux Layer & Oiselle Rundelicious

My final piece up top is actually a half zip I found at Marshall’s this past fall. I was drawn to it because of the herringbone design and its $29 price tag. I didn’t think it was going to be anything special, but it quickly became my favorite super cold weather running piece this winter. It also helps that there is a zipper pouch on the left arm that’s big enough to fit my iPhone 5 which I’ve been taking with me on these icy runs just in case I slip and fall and need to call someone! I have a few other half zips (like this Brooks nightlife) and they are probably my favorite layering piece, since the zipper provides versatility; you can stay zipped up when you start your run, but as you warm up, you can easily unzip to get some air, and then re-zip when you’ve cooled off. I need to get my hands on the Oiselle Lux Layer Side Zip

Half zips FTW
Half zips FTW

Bottom layers

This is actually the first winter in my running career where I’ve had to double up on bottoms. When it’s 20 and below and the wind is howling, my thighs need some extra protection. I’m all for burning legs when you’re running, but I much prefer that burning sensation to be from hard work, and not from the freezing temperatures! So for the past few weeks I’ve been wearing a base layer of winter running tights (ones that are fleece lined have been especially wonderful), with my Oiselle Run Pant on top. A pair of running pants on top of tights might sound like too much, but it’s actually been perfect for runs where I’ve found myself in snow, since the pants give my ankles and lower legs a little extra protection.

Never thought I'd run in pants
Never thought I’d run in pants

I’ve also been doubling up on socks, which may sound like a bad idea, but has actually been wonderful. I’ve found that a pair of Injinji toe socks underneath a pair of Thorlos socks have been a perfect match. If you don’t have toe socks, a pair of more compressive socks layered underneath a thicker, looser pair also works. I was worried at first that doubling socks may result in blisters, but since I’ve been wearing two pairs of running socks that are supposed to prevent just that, I’ve been fine. And, if your legs are super cold, you could wear a pair of knee socks or compression socks as one of your layers to help keep your calves and shins warm!

Double socks
Keep your toes toasty!


While this section is labeled “Accessories” which may make it seem like they’re optional, they definitely aren’t in these temperatures! I’m talking about gloves, hats/headbands, and maybe the necessary scarf. My hands are really sensitive to the cold, and it’s safe to assume that if my hands are cold, I’m miserable. So I don’t mess around when it comes to running gloves. I’ve been tempted to run in snow gloves, but have opted for thinner layers instead to make sure I can actually move my hands and fingers if needed. After a lot of trial and error, the best combination for me is a pair of cheap gloves (I’m talking the kind you can buy at Target in a pack of 2 for $3), and then a pair of fleece running gloves on top. This gives my fingers the ability to press buttons on my watch, but it also keeps them warm. And in the event I overheat, I have a layer I can take off.

As for the top half, I opt for a headband on most days, specifically a Bondi band. While it isn’t winter-specific, I find the material to be just the right thickness to keep my forehead/hairline warm, and the band is big enough that I can use it to cover my ears. Plus, it wicks away any sweat, and if I do wind up getting hot and don’t need my ears covered, I can easily shift the headband back to expose my ears. I know that a lot of people swear by hats, especially because that’s where you lose a lot of your internal heat, but since I run relatively hot, having the top of my head exposed helps regulate the rest of my body temperature.

Gloves & Headbands galore

In terms of optional/less frequent gear, I’d include a scarf and a pair of sunglasses. I’ve only worn a scarf a few times, and that has been when it was actively snowing or the wind has been exceptionally brutal. It covers those few inches of skin that a mock neck or turtleneck doesn’t cover, and it’s perfect to pull up over your mouth and face when it’s bitterly cold. Sunglasses are also helpful for those mid-day runs when it’s sunny out and there is snow on the ground, leaving you nearly blind. They also act as a great shield from the wind – no one likes having tears pouring down their frozen face! My sunglasses aren’t anything fancy, though, they’re just your typical plastic wayfarer styled glasses you get at a party, or for $5 at the store… and they’re perfect.

So there you have it. That’s how I layer in this awfully cold and windy weather. It’s A LOT of clothing to have to put on and take off, but one redeeming quality is that you don’t sweat as much (at least I don’t, and I’m a serious sweater), so laundry frequency doesn’t have to increase that much. Even though I’ve figured out how to be comfortable on the run, I really can’t wait for it to be at least 40 degrees out again. Maybe I just need to move to California!

Tell me…
Have you been running in these temperatures? 
Are your layers similar? More? Less? 
What’s your favorite cold weather running piece?