Winter Running — How did my layering strategy work?

Type: Just a Chill Run
Distance: 4.0 miles
TSS: 56.4
Pace: 8:20 min/mile
Total Work: 41 kJ

This workout was actually pretty amazing when I look back. It was snowing outside and the temps were in the low 30’s. I have a treadmill in my “Pain Cave” that works just fine. Typically I would just run on the treadmill when the weather turns like this, but I had decided I was going to do all my run workouts and when possible bike workouts outside. I won’t bike when there is ice and snow on the roads. But winter running — I am all over it. I would dare say I enjoyed it.

This workout was significant because I did most of my winter training for Ironman St. George last winter on a treadmill. At the time I just did not love running outside in the winter because of the cold, the snow, and the ice. Most of my runs would have been done while the sun was down, which would have been even colder. Call me a pansy. I deserve it.

I did layer up probably too much. I threw on a technical t-shirt to wick sweat away from my skin. I then put on a Carhartt insulating layer (I had to keep it redneck a little), my new Mountain Hard Wear vest to block any wind I encountered, and a windproof shell from Nike. On my legs I used a pair of tri shorts and put on a new pair of insulated running tights (I have a hard time admitting that I wear tights) from Nike. I felt a little weird putting on some running gloves, but I did it just to keep the digits warm. To top it all off I put on a beanie from Nike that covers more of your ears and neck than just a normal beanie and I was off. If you guys give me some time, I would like to take a couple more runs in the gear and then I will post photos and reviews. One run is just not enough.

I was surprised at how warm I actually was. I never got to the point that I was too warm, but I did start to sweat about a mile into the run. Even when I am in peak form, at a mile is where I usually will start to sweat and my legs get loose. I don’t know what is so magical about that point of distance, but it has always seemed to be the point where I can kick it into gear.

My suggestion for winter running? Layer up and get out on the streets and run. I have to admit I felt like somewhat of a pansy when you compare my temps with what people in the north run in. I think I am setting a threshold of about 15 degrees before I will definitely run inside. I know that is like springtime weather for you heartier folk in Minnesota and the Dakotas, but for this boy who was raised a Texan, I think that will do just fine.

The Workout

My pace was pretty spot on with what I wanted it to be. I did have some trouble keeping the pace consistent up the hills that are on this route, but that strength will come with time. I wanted to run a 32:40, so I was a little slower than I wanted. For the first run back I did feel pretty solid. In my experience, that solid feeling will last for most of this first week and then when I start doing speedwork, my legs will turn to jello again.

The run just did not cover that much distance, but I did stretch after I took a block and walked to cool down. For my post run nutrition I made a shake with two scoops of Recoverite, a cup of frozen fruit, a third of a cup of flax seed, two tablespoons of vanilla yogurt, and about two cups of milk. I had at one time determined the number of calories, grams of protein and carbs, and the amount of fiber in this shake. If you want me to, I can try and dig it up and post the details.

Monday, Day 1, is in the books. I am stoked to see how my outdoor running strategy is going to work out for my goal of hitting a sub 20:00 at the 5K on New Year’s Eve. This is going to set me up really well for my marathon next spring!

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...