By Leslie Hoot
Introduction by Elena Remais
I have been running regularly for the past couple of years. Before that, it was only out of necessity — I had to once I signed up for a triathlon. I’m a cyclist not a runner. Running, I was never good at, nor liked much. I’ve grown to like it a lot it a lot and I credit that to the inspiring people I’ve met while on the road.
One of them, Leslie, I met a year in a half ago by a dirt trail near me, part of Rockefeller Park in the Sleepy Hollow area. People here call it “The Rockies”. I was going through some knee issues wearing two Ace bandages, stumbling along ending a 6 miler. Leslie was embarking on her run. Like many athletes, Leslie’s had her share of injury setbacks. We struck up a chat, exchanged numbers and started running together soon after. When I would’ve stayed huddled under my warm blankets, Leslie inspired me to go out and run. I never would’ve done it without her. She’s also the only person I know who would’ve met me outside in 9 degrees weather! Here’s her winter running advice:
Advice from a winter running “layer girl”
By Leslie Hoot
Running half marathons since 2008 and full marathons since 2010 after losing 60 pounds
“Layer girl” is my name in my Monday women’s’ running group. Mostly because I am always cold and I love to layer when I run. Even on days that are not so cold. I still attribute this to my 60 pound weight loss in 2007. I believe (although not scientifically proven) that my body got accustomed to my five plus years of carrying around that additional 60 pounds of fat that kept me warm and once I lost the weight, I my internal thermostat has never properly reset. Hence, when I run, and I run year round, I have learned to become “layer girl”.
Yes, you can run year round! Most runners say they take the winter off, but this is not a requirement for a “crazy” runner such as myself (so I have been called). I have found that in order to maintain being “half marathon ready” and able to pull off 8 marathons to date, the benefits of running in the cold far outweigh the disadvantage of taking the winter off.
In order to run in the cold, I have read up on how to do this effectively with little discomfort from a girl who is always cold. If I can do it, you can too. Here a few simple tips for getting out there in the dead of winter.
DRESS IN LAYERS – The key to winter running is layers. In anything under 50 degrees layers are important. For myself, in 40-50 degrees I wear layered jogging pants or I don my special under 50 degree running tights you can find in your local friendly sporting goods store. I wear a tech t-shirt which is short sleeved and a long sleeve tech with a light jacket over. I cover my ears with a head band and wear light running gloves (I like the ones with a cover that forms a mitten for the fingers – mittens always keeps fingers warmer and I prefer). With anything under 40 degrees, it is time to pull out thermal underwear. I am a fan of the light “wick” style ones you can find in most discount stores. I wear thermals on both top and bottom and if necessary use my special running tights for cold weather under my jogging pants. Experiment with your layers and what works for you. You can always take off and “tie” around your waist or ditch behind a tree so you can pick up on return trip home. Too much is always better than not enough when it comes to layering in the cold.
BRING A RAG OR LOTS OF TISSUES – YOUR NOSE RUNS FASTER THAN YOU IN THE COLD. Don’t leave home without it. I always carry a plastic baggie of tissues year round for that occasional bathroom emergency. I have found in the cold I enjoy cutting up a small rag (from a bandana or undershirt) to carry in my hand for the nose run. Trust me, anything under 40 degrees will result in your nose running fast!
CARRY YOUR BOTTLE OF WATER – Just because it is cold doesn’t mean you do not need water. Anything over 6 miles, and I carry my bottle in my hand. The water will often begin to freeze in a 20 degree run, but you can sip on it. HYDRATION is very important no matter what the temperature.
COVER YOUR HEAD – Anything under 30 degrees and you must cover your head. I’m sure your mother told you when you were growing up that heat always escapes though the top of your head so a hat is very important during your winter running.
DON’T LET COLD TEMPS DISCOURAGE YOU – YOU CAN RUN! – The only thing that stops me from going out the door is ice or lightening. I have run half marathons in blizzard conditions. The other runners made a nice snow trail and it was easy. As long as the surface is not too slippery, go for it. If it is excessively windy, cover your face too. Wrap a scarf around your nose and cheeks but be sure to leave a breathing hole for your mouth. Winter running is really about creating a layer around your body for the purpose of making a “heat tent” that really keeps you nice and toasty. I have run in 4 degree temps and been very comfortable. Mittens that are wool are a must in this kind of cold and 2 pair of socks (not too tight) is always helpful. When you are finished with your run, it is very important you have a toasty winter jacket checked at bag check for you and/or a blanket. Dry clothes important for your finish too so always put those in plastic bags if you are checking at bag check. As soon as you can get back into warmth when your run finished – VERY IMPORTANT. The stopping is the hard part. I always save my metallic covers from my marathon runs. Bring those along in your check in bag for winter races. They are nice and warm.
So take it from “layer girl” – the crazy runner in me knows that running is easily done as a year round activity. Winter is NOT a reason to take time off.