Random Reader Questions Vol. 6

Sue says: You have inspired me to start exercising.  Thanks for the link for your new running shoes.  Now if you could do a post on your running apparel for the winter months, I would appreciate it.  I’m always using the excuse of “it’s too cold to exercise.”

My response: Yes, I am all too familiar with that excuse.  For years, the weather kept me from exercising outside in the wintertime, but a few years ago a friend and I got in the habit of walking early in the mornings and we didn’t want to stop when it got cold outside, so we bought some winter gear and kept going.  We would check the weather each night and if the low temp was 25 or above, we would plan to go out.  We just bundled up.

So now that I’m on a roll with this running thing, I have been going out when it’s pretty darn cold.  I do the Shred if it is raining or snowing outside or if it is just. too. cold.  But if it’s over 25 degrees and not too windy, I bundle up and go outside.

Here is what I wear:

1. Lip Balm.  When I don’t have chapstick on, I lick my lips too much, which causes them to get horribly dry and cracked.

2. Ear Warmer. This is probably my #1 piece of running gear.  Without this, I won’t go out if it’s less than 50 degrees out.  My ears are incredibly sensitive to wind and cold, and I get ear aches if I don’t cover them up.  It also helps keep my earphones in my ears.  🙂

3. Moisture Wicking Shirt.  I got one of these when I bought my running shoes, at the recommendation of the sales clerk in the running store.  He explained that you should not wear cotton against your skin becuase it chafes.  These shirts wick the sweat away from your body and keep you dry and warm.  If you wear cotton for this layer, once you get wet, you’ll stay wet.

4. Fleece Hooded Jacket.  Again, since I don’t go out when it’s extremely cold, I can get away with just a fleece over my base layer. I found a fleece top with a hood and a high neck at Target (sort of like the one shown in this link), which is perfect for running in 30-40 degree weather.

5. Gloves.  I found my hands were getting really cold and dry and chapped, so I bought a cheapie pair of gloves at the running store for something like three bucks. I cut off the tip of the first finger on my right hand glove so I can operate my iPod.  They do make gloves with finger cut outs and the flap that comes down over top of it, but I didn’t want to spend $25 on gloves when it should be getting warmer in a few weeks.  Key word: should.

6. On the bottom, I just wear sweatpants, which I know is not ideal.  But soon it should be warm enough to wear my athletic capris so I didn’t want to invest in something else.  (Again with the should.)

7. Wicking Socks.  Again with the cotton, you don’t want to wear cotton socks when you exercise, especially in cold weather.  They can give you blisters.

Here are some other options, especially nice if you are exercising outside in sub-freezing temperatures:

1. Neck gaiter.  I wore this when I walked with my friend; they are great.  I just haven’t bothered to replace it, and the fleece jacket that I wear has a nice high neck that seems to do the job.

2. Balaclava.  If you live in an extremely cold climate, where it’s often in the single digits, you need one of these to exercise outside.  Obviously you don’t need this AND the neck gaiter.

3. Running tights are perfect to wear under your track pants or sweats.  They wick moisture away and provide an extra layer of insulation against the cold.  Of course many runners wear just the running tights, but you won’t catch me dead wearing skintight pants like this.  I prefer the looser style of athletic pants, such as the capris I linked to above.

4. The recommended cold weather gear for the upper body is a moisture wicking under layer, a fleece insulating layer, and a wind breaker on top to protect against wind and rain.

Again, the recommendations for socks, gloves, and chapstick apply.

Did I forget anything?  If you exercise outside, what are your must-haves?