Thursday, December 20, 2012

more on winter running!

Wow, these winter running stories just keep coming!  I just finished reading two of my friends blogs on being mole like and hiding inside for winter.  I too have been much less active than I have EVER been in any winter.  The days seem so much shorter now, especially working 8 to 4:30, through all the sunlight of the day and then walking or biking home in total darkness. Hooray for the upcoming solstice!

However, thanks to Aaron at least 1 day a week, I am pulled out of the house for an afternoon, pitch black dark, trail run.  This weeks run was more fun than ever however because Aaron and I found ourselves turning off our headlamps, at 5pm, and running in the light of the moon!  Since the trail was covered in snow and the moon and stars were out we weren't in need of our usually necessary headlamps.  At one point we were running hand in hand by the light of the moon, ahhhh how sweet!  I love that man!

Second crazy winter run experience was Sunday morning and much less romantic.  At my normal 8 am pop out of bed weekend wake up time, I laced up and hit the trail.  I was so excited because not only was it beautiful outside but the trail was still runnable, not too much snow pile up yet.  Everyone was out, shoveling their driveways because of the fresh 2 or 3 inch new dusting of snow.  Like the previous snowy runs of the winter I followed deer trails onto the trail and when the access trail hit the main trail I noticed another sort of tracks, much larger than the previous set of tracks, BEAR!  What?  No way, I couldn't believe it, but when I heard a rustling in the bushes, believe it I did.  I high tailed it out of the trail, right back to the road, where I decided to plug in a few more miles before heading home.  So much for a dreamy white trail run, that would have to wait for another day. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

let it snow!

In Sitka snow is not a guarantee.  The winter typically isn't cold enough for snow and the few days a year the temperature drops below freezing means the insulating clouds have lifted.  We get gobs of snow on the mountain peeks, but our coastal town rarely sees snow down low.  This week however the snow kept coming.  Each morning I'd jump up to check the weather: is the snow still on the ground? did we get any new snow? has it started raining yet?  And the answer was the same: yes, yes, no... Then I'd check the temperature to see what would happen if precipitation came and cross my fingers that by some miracle it would keep snowing.  Luckily enough today, a week after the had begun  to fall, we had accumulated quite a base of more than a foot of fluffy white powder!

So when I peeked out of the windows this morning and the snow was still there I was lulled out of bed by the thought of my x-country skiing dream actually becoming a reality.  Next, I rushed to our weather station, 29 degrees!  Hallelujah, that was absolutely perfect for a x-country ski!  I was the first person on the snowy trail this morning following deer tracks as I meandering up and down a white wonderland.  It might be my only x-country ski of the year, but it sure was delightful while it lasted!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

winter running

I am so proud of my dad, formally known as a fair weather runner, he just recently called me to let me know that he would be running through the winter this year.  He was curious to know about any hot tips I had, in terms of gear he should accumulate.  At first I had a nice chuckle to myself wondering what winter weather he was talking about living in sunny South Carolina, then I shared. 

Today on my snowy trail run I was wondering how my dad is enjoying winter running.  I can find nothing more refreshing.  Plus it helps keep the sprirts high when the darkness is creeping in and everyone else is just bundled up under blankets by the fire waiting for summer. And while running you produce your own body heat and get to have a rewarding hot shower.  It is so rejuvenating, especially compared to stuffy gyms.  Also, the fresh air component is huge!  However, proper gear makes all the difference.  Here is my list of the best of winter running:

1.  A light weight beanie or toboggan.  Experts say 80% of your body heat is lost from your head, this is an essential, nothing more is needed.  And the good news is, it's easy to pack away if and when you get to warm. 

2. A base layer for your legs.  I don't ever break this out until it is below freezing, any warmer and I find I just get too overheated.  For less competitive runners, or people who feel like they're wearing underwear with the base layer, I advise light weight pants with a leg zips for easy on/off over shoe needs. 

3.  Mittens, mittens are better than gloves for multiple reasons, the main being you can ball up your hands for extra warmth.  Also, if your hands do get sweaty, you've got extra breathing space. 

4.  A light weight long sleeve with a thumb hole and a front zip.  I say light weight for economical reasons, you can always layer it with a short sleeve shirt under it if it is really cold.  So if you are going to buy just one long sleeve shirt, make sure it isn't too thick.  Also the thumb hole is essential to insure that you keep that cold air out of your hands.  The front zip is to help regulate your body temperature. 

5.  And fifth and finally socks!  Socks are often overlooked, but key to a happy winter run.  Make sure your socks are tall enough so that your base layer will cover them with no open skin. 

And this can't be a blog post about running without excert on running shoes, if you want to take care of yourself and body and you are planning on logging miles regularly, it is worth it to go to a running store and have them look at your feet and one or two shoes that will work for you.  Then buy that exact shoe for the rest of your life! Also don't bother with those hip cool looking trail shoes.  As a trail runner I've found they just aren't built to last like road shoes. 

Happy snowy trails!