Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter . . . bah!

Clearly I've been putting off this writing this article.  A generally warm fall helped me in this regard and them bam! Winter is here (and has been for a few weeks).

Couple cold weather, slippery paths, darkness and no race looming and you may just decide to skip that run.  I'm here to say don't do it!

Dressing for cold weather is a matter of layers and personal taste.  This article will help you prepare for those snowy/icy slippery paths or roads.

I offer suggestions for 3 different levels of slipperyness and snow cover.  If the paths are generally clear  or have a thin layer of snow but you may encounter an occasional visible slick spot I suggest running in a pair of shoes designed for trail running.  These shoes often have a deeper tread and some measure of water resistance which helps keep toes dry and warm.  The deeper tread provides better grip in loose snow than your typical road shoes.

The solution for the next level is a little screwy (sorry but sometimes I can't resist a pun, good or otherwise)
A few 1/4" or 3/8" provide great traction on hardpack or the spots that have melted and frozen again.  I find those refrozen areas to be the most treacherous.  I thought this solution was a bit out there but have used it with success.  It seems to have gone mainstream as there's an article in the January 2011 issue of Triathlete magazine - "Snow Chains for Your Running Shoes" by Aaron Hersh which suggests it.

The 3rd level is for complete ice with or without some snow cover.  It's a commercial solution and will cost you about $30.
I use the Yaktrax Pro and have been pretty happy with them.  I've found that they grip ice really well (even if it's hidden by a thin layer of snow).  They don't help much if there's 4 or more inches of snow on the ground (although they're still better in that situation than the screws or nothing).  When there's that much snow skis or snowshoes may be your best bet.  They won't hold up to a lot of running on bare pavement so some people complain about their durability.  I'm on my 2nd or 3rd winter with mine.  No, I'm not a paid shill for Yaktrax either, just a customer.

Get the right gear and you've lost half of your excuses.  Now to work on the other half . . . Get out there!