As the weather changes, (this would be the 17th year that I have run in shorts during the winter). I have run in shorts through blizzards, wind advisories, temperature advisories, sleet, and snow. Wearing shorts in subzero temperatures has become a stupid symbol of my refusal to compromise with Mother Nature –something that I am proud of.
So, why do I do this? Well, it started out because I hated running in pants. I know the technology has improved tremendously since the last time I ran in long pants. But I cannot erase the constraining feeling of those itchy pants. I refuse for something as trivial as pants to take away my enjoyment of running. After I made this vow to myself to only run in shorts I have learned many important lessons. However, if I decide to share some of my tips for running in the cold, and they inspire you to join me on this chilly voyage, you have to give me some credit. Deal?
The first thing I discovered about running in the cold was that as long as my core and fingers were warm, the rest of my body would stay warm too. To compensate for my chilly legs, I usually wear two pairs of gloves and a base layer top with a t-shirt on top. Having a shirt that is tight allows my body heat to stay close to me and keeps me cozy and warm. My other secret is that I like to do some pushups right before I head out. If try to get my heart rate up, and get the blood flowing it can help me stay warm throughout the entire run.
A wise man once told me that you do not need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows… but I am pretty sure there is an app for that. Regardless, when I leave the house I get a feel for the wind, and pick routes that would push against the wind as to run with the wind at my back on the way home. I believe that one of the worst things you can do is start with the wind behind you, get a little sweat going, only to have the sweat freeze onto your body on the way back.
My last tip I learned is from my experience with chest cramps on cold days. I’ve tried everything from inhaling/exhaling exclusively when my foot hits the ground to taking big, deep breaths to help expand my lungs. Nothing seemed to work for me, and I was worried that my days running in the cold would have to end. Finally, one day I tried drinking a hot beverage as I was heading out for my run and boom –no cramps. Now when I am walking out the door I am usually sipping a hot mug of coffee or tea. It seems like if I can get that warmth inside my chest when it starts it keeps me warm my whole run.
There may be a day in the future when I have to end my streak and try running tights or something else, but for now, these tips seem to be working just fine. I am planning another winter of weird looks from people passing by and red, ashy kneecaps. Hopefully, after this article, I will see others taking on the shorts look with me this winter.