Dawn – Running East on a Snow Covered Gravel Road

Beginning Runners Survive Winter Running – Frosty Paws

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Dawn – Running East on a Snow Covered Gravel Road

I signed up for an early May marathon and recently began training.  My miles have quickly ramped up, and last week I finished a 15 mile run, tomorrow I’ll run seventeen, and the following week twenty.  I’m following the FIRST running program, which I’ll describe in more detail in a later post, but so far I’m finding the program accommodating to the winter runner.  At the program’s foundation are three core runs, one each for speed, tempo, and endurance.

Last week I set out on my fifteen mile run early Sunday morning with the mercury hovering at four degrees above zero.  I’ve never ran such a distance with the weather so cold and took it as a challenge.  To prepare for the run, I wore heaver running pants, two tech t-shirts, a pull over fleece, and a running jacket.  I wore running gloves underneath fleece mittens.  My balaclava covered my head, leaving only a portion of my face exposed to the elements.  I knew water would freeze quickly, so I filled my water bottles with hot tap water to delay solidification.
Surprisingly at mile two I unzipped my jacket as I was starting to get warm; however, the slight wind burned my face and I resorted to pulling the balaclava over my nose, but I found it hard to breath, so I would only do so for a short time.  Eventually my breath froze the balaclava making it stiff.I set out near dawn and it was quite cold out.  The roads were snow covered and being cold it sounded like I was running on Styrofoam; it had that dry squeaky feeling.  I deliberately started slow, my training called for me to run thirty seconds above my target marathon pace, so after the first half mile, being warmed up, I was in cruise mode and thoroughly enjoying the run.


Frosty Paws!

At mile eight I noticed frost had formed on my gloves.  Apparently the moisture wicked away from my running gloves and diffused through the outer fleece layer to immediately freeze in the morning air.  By this time the sun was becoming brighter in the sky and tiny flecks of airborne froze twinkled like tiny diamonds.  I think if you were driving a car you wouldn’t have noticed them.  I drank the last of my water just past mile eight.  Out of two ten ounce bottles I think I ingested fifteen ounces; the remainder locked in the containers as ice.

I ran an out and back course and during the return portion of the run I concentrated on maintaing my pace as well as core temperature.  I eventually zipped my running jacket back up, as I wasn’t generating as much heat, and was afraid I would cool down too much.  It turned out to be a great run and I kept my pace throughout the entire run, I was very happy to do so in such cold conditions.


Frosted! Cold and Thankfully Done.

Hopefully you figured out that I didn’t get frost bite, nor become uncomfortable.  In fact, other than a couple of minor issues, such as my water freezing, the run was a success.  In fact, it was much more fun and enjoyable than some of those high humidity runs I’ve done in the summer.Though my hair and eye lashes were frosted, I wasn’t cold.  By layering clothing I was able to stay warm and relatively dry.  I was surprised by the amount of frost built up inside my jacket.  If this weather continues, perhaps I’ll invest in a warm, more breathable running jacket.  My current one, is great for cutting the wind, but, being nylon, doesn’t wick moisture away as fleece.

Don’t be afraid of the cold, get out there, and get your frosty paws.

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