Even the most dedicated among us Gnarly denizens pauses sometimes when they wake up to a frigid, icy morning and realize that they need to get out in it and actually exercise. Well, the shorter days are upon us (read my blog about tips to adjust your exercise schedule for the short days) and, unless you plan on becoming a couch potato until March or April, you’re gonna need to bare the winter weather and go do your thing. Here are some tips and tricks from the standard issue Gnarly Field Manual on how to dress for the frigid temps ahead.
The trick to staying warm in cold weather is to keep dry, keep the wind from chilling you and dress for the temperature you’re exercising in. How do you do these three things? It’s actually pretty simple:
I’ve been running in all kinds of weather for nearly 15 years now. I usually am one to pass on gadgets or anything that I feel will weigh me down. But winter has some particular challenges: Snow that blocks sidewalks or bike/running lanes, forcing you to mix a bit more with traffic, diminished visibility from weather, and icy road surfaces all make it a good idea to wear a reflective vest or headlamp when you’re out in the dark and traffic is heavy. Just common sense really.
Your Layers Need To Breathe
The romantic days of pulling a Rocky Balboa and running through early morning streets in a simple cotton hoodie and sweats are long gone. Hopefully, with all the technical clothing available out there now, sweats don’t even register as athletic clothing anymore. Cotton truly is a dirty word for athletes. Make sure your base layer is a snug, wicking fabric that can act as a second skin. It will help push sweat from your body so you don’t overheat and keep you dryer. For women, a good, non-cotton sports bra and for men, a good pair of boxer briefs made from wicking materials are necessary investments. A lot of technical boxers even have a windproof panel in the front.
You Layers Need To Insulate
A long sleeve top or perhaps even a vest that can be worn over your base layer and is (again) non-cotton is used for warmth by holding onto some of that heat you’re generating while you exercise. It keeps you toasty while still allowing excess moisture and heat to evaporate in the atmosphere as opposed to staying on the skin and drenching you in sweat that eventually chills you. For pants, you can go with thicker tights or a tech pant that is designed for winter temps –and mobility.
Link: Want to know not just how to dress, but how to eat if you’re just starting and endurance training program? Check this out.
Your Layers Need To Protect
Think of your last layer as a shell that protects you from the wind, snow or rain. This layer isn’t necessarily very thick –remember, you’re getting most of your warmth from your insulating layer. But a shell is there to stop the wind from blowing right through to your skin and the snow and rain from drenching you and eventually chilling you.
Head Hands and Feet
If you’re doing something high intensity, like running, heavy hiking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing, then you don’t need a particularly thick glove. If your keep your core (your chest) warm, your body will naturally be able to keep your extremities warmer. Fact: your body wants to protect the vital organs in your chest first, then it worries about luxuries such as fingers and toes.
Here’s another interesting fact: you lose most of your heat from your head. So wear a good snug hat or earband for temps that are closer to 30+ deg.
For your feet, You need good socks. They don’t need to be bulky, just made out of the right material. I love wool for being outside in the winter. And that goes for most anything I’m wearing on any part of my body. Why? Read on…
Now I would be amiss if I worked for Gnarly, a company that prides itself in being all natural and even likes to brag about New Zealand grass fed whey and not mention the awesomeness of wool as a natural material that wicks moisture away like nobody’s business. I love wool simply because it keeps you warm and dry naturally. It’s mother nature showing us (once again) that she had it right the first time –the stuff seriously works just as good or even better than some of the plastic based tech fabrics woven together in multi-million dollar labs, Finally, I love it because it’s a very renewable resource that doesn’t hurt the environment nearly as much as the production of synthetics. Just something to keep in mind, denizens. Another thing to keep in mind: Have fun out there in the snow. And if anyone decides to do a polar bear plunge, let me know!