I’m trying out a different workout class each week and reporting back for your entertainment every Wednesday. This includes homegrown fitness concepts all the way up to the big national franchises and everything in between. Follow along here, browse our fitness archives for more, send class suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or challenge me to your favorite workout. I am here to suffer. Today we’re taking a slight detour from the usual Workout Wednesday format to talk about running in the winter and how terrible I am at it.
I’m not a runner but I run sometimes. What I mean by this is I don’t run regularly, don’t train for time or distance, don’t participate in races and mostly just don’t fully commit to the sport in spirit or in financial commitment to gear. Never has this ever been more apparent than on a disastrous early-morning run I subjected myself to this week.
I know better but I decided to run in yoga pants, a cotton t-shirt and a light cotton pullover. It was probably 40 degrees. I had keys and a phone but no pockets or gloves. My leggings, stretched from several years of yoga wear, kept sliding off my hips. Without gloves I had to pull my hands inside my shirt sleeves and without my hands I had to shove my phone inside my bra. I didn’t notice I’d lost feeling in my ears until my headphones fell out and I had to fumble to put them back in. My hair wouldn’t stay up. Basically everything was wrong.
To save me from myself, I sought the expertise of the professionals at Charlotte Running Company to learn about what I should be wearing this winter should I decide to run again. Mike and Jamie schooled me on proper running gear. Learn from my mistakes.
My loose cotton t-shirts were all wrong. Sweating on cotton ensures you’ll be covered in cold, wet cotton. No fun. Instead, aim for moisture-wicking fabrics that stay dry to keep you warm. A tight long-sleeved base layer will keep body warmth in. Wearing it under a vest or coat gives you an extra layer of protection and also pockets for storage so you don’t have to use your bra. How novel.
Can’t decide between a vest or a jacket as your second layer? This Sugoi coat below has magnetic sleeves you can rip off as you heat up and then store them in a handy zipper pocket until you’re done. Magic!
I don’t know if it’s cut, material or a combination of both, but yoga pants simply do not double as running tights. I know they look the same but they’re not. Jamie confirmed that run-specific tights perform better than yoga pants, in part because most will come with a drawstring. A tight fit crop made specifically for running will do the trick.
She also said that so long as you’re layered up on the top, you won’t notice that your legs are cold so a lot of runners still wear shorts in the winter. No thank you.
Depending on how far you’re running and how cold it is, you may or may not want gloves. For shorter distances and less frigid temperatures, Jamie recommend just wearing a long-sleeved shirt with thumb holes so you can pull your hands inside. For more protection, go for thermal gloves that fit as tight to your hand as possible. Some even come with special fingertip pads so you can still use your touchscreen device.
If you’re running a winter race and don’t want to toss your special $30 gloves alongside the course as you strip off layers, Jaimie suggests buying their cheap $5 Charlotte Running Co. branded gloves instead.
I was surprised to find that wool is a good idea when it comes to running socks for winter. I know wool does the job to keep you warm but it strikes me as too bulky and itchy to make a good running sock. Jamie says these Balega socks are thin and breathable but still keep your feet warm. Also (surprise), it turns out wool doesn’t retain odor.
For frozen ears
Hats are good for keeping heat in all over your head but hair as gigantic as mine handles that job just fine. A stretchy ear warmer that doubles as a headband to keep my hair out of my face and under control is the way to go.
With the sun rising later and setting earlier, odds are your winter runs may creep into more darkness than you’re used to. Reflective pieces help keep you safe and you don’t need extra gadgets or gear to achieve the look. This is the same Sugoi vest (shown in the second photo under “Tops”) shot with the flash on. Pretty cool.
About that phone
Jamie had several practical tips about what to do with my phone other than shove it down my bra. 1) Wear something with pockets so it can go there. Duh. 2) Use an iPod shuffle so you don’t have to deal with your phone for music (although you’ll still want it for emergencies in which case: pockets). 3) Get a case that attaches to your arm or hand.
Ready to run outside?
You’ll find group runs at Lenny Boy on Sundays, Heist on Mondays, Brazwell’s on Tuesdays, NoDa Brewing and Sycamore on Wednesdays, Triple C on Thursdays, Peculiar Rabbit on Fridays and Jack Beagles (10K), Davidson Street Public House (5K) and Sycamore on Saturdays. Read about Phil’s experience doing 8 group runs in 8 days, gear up and get out there. I regret to inform you we missed the Ugly Sweater Run at the Dowd YMCA this morning and also that I neglected to include ugly sweaters among my winter running gear.
The gear you see in this post is from Nike, Sugoi, Balega, Mizuno and Amphipod, but in the name of small business support, I’m pointing you to Charlotte Running Company instead of providing direct links to products online.