Running on Ice

How do I run in the snow? I get this question a lot. The most honest answer is that I just do it. The longer answer? I do it. Slower. Carefully. With a lot more clothes than when I run in temperate weather. Let’s talk about warmth first.

I hate being cold. My hands and feet are almost always cold. I have medical condition called Reynauds Syndrome that prevents my blood from flowing to my hands and feet and fingers and toes regularly. It’s particularly bad if I touch something cold– like the steering wheel of my car first thing in the morning or run my hands under cold water. The ends of my fingers turn white and get tingly. Sometimes they stay that way for the better part of an hour. It’s miserable.

So, when I run outside in the cold, my first concern is making sure I will be warm enough. Or at least as warm as I can manage without turning into Randy from A Christmas Story. Layering is the key. First, the base layer. 



I wear fleece lined running tights in the winter. My favorite pair comes from Athleta. They are ridiculously expensive but really warm. My second favorite is Zella (Nordstrom store brand.) they are only about $20 cheaper, and also warm. On top I wear long sleeved tech shirts. I have three Nike shirts that I bought on clearance and one Zella brand shirt. I have worn them each for hundreds of miles, at least, and all are holding up pretty well. My oldest Nike shirt has some pilling now but that’s it.

Next layer is a light weight pair of windbreaker type pants. I bought these at The Gap last fall. They are good for retaining some body heat around your legs, especially if it’s windy. On top I pull on a long sleeve fleecy shirt. I have two that I rotate. One has a hood and one has a head swallowing funnel neck. Both are good for retaining some of your body heat on cold days. 

Lastly, I cover my hands and my head. Did you know that you lose a significant amount of body heat through the top of your head? Wearing a hat is a good way to keep some of that heat from escaping. I have several handknit wool hats that I rotate on my runs. Taking off my hat mid run is also a good way to cool down if I get too hot. I often take my hat off and shove it into the back waistband of my tights in the middle of a run. 


Hands. My hands are the hardest thing to keep warm. I usually wear two pairs of coverings on them in the winter: a pair of either cotton or tech gloves and a pair of wool mittens over top of them. Even so, I often am a couple of miles into a run before they get warm.

Once I’m out the door I can shed some layers as I run if I get too warm. Gloves and hats can be shoved into the waist band of my tights. If I really get warm I can also pull off my fleece shirt and tie it around my waist as I run. 

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