A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cold Weather Tips for Running - Most of You Have Heard This Before...

DNAinfo Magazine called me for an interview on cold weather running.

This should be interesting.

To skip the suspense, if you're properly clothed, you can easily run outside, polar vortex or not.

This isn't Antartica or the northern climes of Canada folks. This is NYC. When this "polar vortex" hit, the temperatures actually didn't go below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

 I don't let a little thing like a polar vortex keep me inside.

This temperature is downright balmy compared to folks living near the Arctic Circle. And those people keep their productive day going even when the temps hit -40 degrees (C or F).

The trick is preparation. Well, you knew winter was coming. That was one warning. In the fall, you should have stocked up on some good winter running clothes to keep the heat in when the cold hits.

Then, you had about 4-5 days of fair warning that this "polar vortex" was going to hit, sending temperatures to single digits. At that point, you should have readied those clothes out for running in those temperatures.

I participated in a marathon this past weekend when the temperature was showing to be only 1 degree Fahrenheit. I was joined with about 100 other runners who were prepared for the bitter cold also.

And we had fun out there!

So how did we run in this without problems?

Well, you keep on hearing this, but you need to dress in layers.  For me, that means 3 layers on top (a thin inner base layer that wicks out water, a thicker middle layer, and a tough, weatherproof outer layer), and 2 layers on the bottom (inner layer being a thick stretchable spandex/polyester combination that wicks water, and a looser outer layer to keep the legs from the cold air).

Extremities HAVE to be covered. There are several ways to go about doing this. For the feet, a thin layer of sock liners followed by a thick pair of socks designed for hikers. Or, for the value conscious, you can wear your thin running socks first, then put a layer of Saran Wrap over that layer, then put a thicker pair of tube socks over the wrap. That should keep the heat in. The downside is that the sweat stays locked up in the wrap, so people with Athlete's Foot might have a problem with this. For the arms, mittens are better than gloves. Having the fingers in one chamber keeps them a lot warmer than having fingers in their own separate chambers. The best thing you can do is put on thin glove liners, then put on the thicker mittens on top to protect your hands.

Lastly, the head. Most of the heat escapes from the head, so that HAS to be covered also. I wear a thin balaclava to cover both the head and neck, and then put a thick wool cap over the balaclava. If it is really cold, like it was this past week, I also put on a pair of ski goggles to protect the eye area from the elements. Although the goggles have a tendency of fogging and icing up, it's quite easy to take them off during the run and clear it out.

So voila! Not one inch of skin is exposed! At this point, the only thing that is keeping you from going outside is your head. At that point, it's up to you to push yourself out that door!

 Arrowhead 135 cyclists in sub zero temps

Hey, if the folks at Arrowhead can run, or bike, or XC ski 135 miles in -20F weather, then you can easily get your 5, or 10, 26.2, or even 50 miles in single digit weather here.

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