The Norfolk County Pacers is the running group I have joined. Founded earlier this year by Scott and Kim Knous, it currently counts about 60 members from the area in and around Franklin. The hardy among us came out to do our thing on the roads this morning for the Sunday Fun Run. The outside temperature was 18 degrees Fahrenheit when I left for the middle school parking lot where we gather. I had volunteered for the coffee and refreshments for the post run social period, so I stopped at the local Dunkin Donuts on the way.
The high school parking lot was a sheet of reflections broken here and there with crusted snow. I gingerly made my way across. Running on ice is okay if you keep your strides short and ensure that your center of gravity stays level over your feet. Arms should be loose anyway, but especially at this time, so they can be extended quickly, if necessary to help keep your balance. I did a loop around the high school and made my way back to the middle school to see if the 3 mile group was going to be more than just me.
There was a light breeze and lots of sun, no clouds in the sky this cold morning. I had layered properly and was nice and warm. Of course, the body provides plenty of heat when moving so the key to the layering is to keep the sweat off you and keep the heat within.
For the upper body:
The bottom layer should be something along the new material line that wicks the sweat away. I like this layer in a long sleeve with an extended cuff that also provides a thumb hole. This gives a complete seal to the layer. A short sleeve cotton t-shirt goes over this and all this is topped with a good wind breaker. I currently have a luminous yellow top that was on sale at the local Saucony outlet store. The only draw back is that it has no pockets. I get around that by either tying my key into my shoe laces, or recently have been pinning it into the inside of my jacket zipper binding. For this short run, I don't carry any ID or money. For a longer run, I have a small running wallet with some changes, a couple of dollar bills, and some ID. For safety sake, and my wife's peace of mind mostly.
For the lower half:
I wear some close fitting leggings, dark blue today to run in the daylight. For the dark, I have a couple of pairs of yellow tights. I admit, I must look like a character but in the dark it is better to be seen than look good. Over the leggings a pair of exercise shorts. For the under 30 degree days, a regular pair of jockey briefs goes underneath. As it gets warmer, this layer is less required. Over 40, I usually only need a pair of lined nylon running briefs. If the temp dropped below 10, and or the wind chill was more of a factor, I could also add another bottom layer. Beyond that, you try to schedule your run for a better day. Discretion is the better part of value.
For the feet:
A good pair of socks is a must. I am currently rotating amongst a trio of "Run Across America" socks (item RRS-894) from Road Runner Sports. They are CoolMAX with a nice cushion and advertised to last for 3000 miles. While I have not gone that many miles in them, they indeed have stood up better to the running better than any other socks I have worn. They come in the full crew (mine) or the shorter ankle form. I do have some woolen liner socks that I wear as my bottom layer when I am wearing hiking boots. The wool ones are good if I know it is one of those days that I won't be able to avoid getting my feet wet. The wool handles water better than cotton.
For the hands:
I feel in love with some glittens several years ago and they have been very serviceable. It is only now getting to the point that I am considering upgrading the ones I have. The polypropylene material is good for most temperatures. They can be used as a glove, roll the mitten cover over the fingers and obtain the additional warmth. On the days when your hands are cold to start with, but then you warm up enough so you don't need them, you can take them off, roll them up and carry them in your hands. If you don't like things in your hands, they can tuck nicely into a pocket or into your waist band.
For the head:
The head is actually the most important part of the body to protect in the cold. Numerous studies have shown how much heat is given off through the head. In the 50 - 30 degree range, I'll use a nylon stretch head band from Saucony that my daughters gave me for Christmas. Below 30, I go with a good knit cap.
Get out of your wet stuff as soon as possible. Yes, when it is cold, this can be a challenge. You will attract some attention with your steaming upper body exposed. I focus on the upper body layer as that tends to generate the most sweat. Getting some dry clothes on and letting the body cool down gradually is a good thing. Keep moving, gently shifting the weight from leg to leg, especially when socializing in the cold over coffee and bagels, will leave you feeling better as the day goes along.
Well, no others arrived for the 3 mile so I headed out. About a half mile away, I found a threesome coming back in from their six mile run. I turned around and headed back with them. I opened the car to make the coffee and refreshments available, then took off to do another loop to complete my own run.
This completed a good week of running, 17 miles over 4 days. It felt good to be "back" to this level of fitness. Now, I need to keep it here, no sliding back. I can build on this to continue the gradual increase in fitness and strength.