I’m in Toronto right now visiting family for a few months and trying to keep my training up as I’ve a marathon in early April. It’s been hovering around the minus 10 to 20 degree mark recently with a foot or more of snow and I thought you might like to know what kit I’ve found to be of best use in case you’re experiencing similar conditions. Ok, that’s unlikely in the UK, but it still gets to the zero mark now and again there, and that’s not great running weather unless you’re well kitted out.
First off, I’ve got 2 pairs of normal underwear (boxer shorts) on – I wore one pair on the first run and it was a big mistake, I felt frostbite coming on – and a running t-shirt over which I put a set of Â blue Odlo thermals (long pants and top).
I guess I could get a pair of special winter running underwear, if such a thing exists, but I do like to have multiple uses for my clothes if possible, so it’s no issue just to wear 2 pairs of regular underwear (I’ve experienced no side effects such as chaffing so far).
The Odlo thermals have proved to be superb. They dry quick and don’t smell after use for a long while so I can wear them for a week’s running, usually 3 or 4 outings, between washes. You can read more about the thermals here.
Then over them I put Spiro winter running pants, top and jacket, a Sealskinz hat and Keen boots.
The Spiro Jacket is completely water and windproof. The winter pants are thicker than usual running tights and waterproof too. You can find out more about the Jacket here,Â the Top hereÂ and the Pants here.
Hiking boots may seem an odd choice for running wear but these Keen boots are almost flat and very lightweight and when you’re running through deep snow you need something a bit waterproof and also with some grip. It’s not particularly unusual to use hiking boots like this, although I would have thought so a month ago, I see a fair few people here in Toronto doing it and who can forget the great Olympic Champion Emil Zatopek, who used to train in the snow wearing his heavy old army boots! You can discover more about the Keen boots here.
The Sealskinz hat is double thickness and thermal, totally waterproof and also that nice bright colour to help the car drivers see me. My head never suffers from cold and it wicks away the sweat excellently. I also wear Sealskinz socks – they’re waterproof, thick so my feet don’t get cold and they’re comfy so as to prevent blisters.
To finish off my outfit, I wear a Result scarf and gloves set.
The scarf is essential – it was minus 23 outside today and if you’re breathing in that temperature air for an hour or more it starts to hurt. There’s also a chance you’ll damage your nose or skin if it’s exposed for too long. Find out more about the scarf here. A single pair ofÂ gloves on their own aren’t enough so I wear 2 pairs of them, a fleecy pair next to the skin and a windproof pair over the top. You can read about the outer gloves here.
The final bit of kit I think is essential is a Tom Tom watch. It’s so hard to tell where you are going in a new area, or how far you have gone, and this GPS watch has the ability to map out where I’ve been so I can quickly get to grips with the route. Also, running in snow, or any severe weather, is difficult and it’s easy to slow down and think, well, it’s ok that I’m going slow, it’s tough out here! But then I look at the data after the run and see that I’ve only done 12 minute miles and my heart rate didn’t get very high at all I can see that I’ve been letting myself off the hook, and know that if I’m to get in shape for the marathon I need to step it up next time. Read about the Tom Tom watch here.
With this kit, I’ve been able to keep up my training in these severe conditions. If you’re training and the temperature is only around zero, you probably won’t need the Spiro thermals or Keen boots, although they’re handy to have for everyday/hiking wear.
I hope next time you look out the window and see the storm raging, you see it as a positive thing – it really is beautiful to be outside in strong weather – and get out there running! Here’s a film I made the other day. It was only minus 10 but the snow was deep and still falling. I loved it.