Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Baby, it's cold outside!"

The voices of Dean Martin and Doris Day echo through my head whenever I look out the window. "Baby, it's cold outside!" And I really need someone to hold my hand, "they're just like ice." For some reason, it doesn't matter that our heat is on. I am constantly chilled to the bone. But, well. I guess it IS winter no matter how hard I try to deny it. Fact is, this is my favorite time of winter. The snow is fluffy and white, and the promise of Christmas is still in the air.

It's when the roads get dirty and the cars get salty that I really, really begin to detest it. Until then, I'll just have to enjoy it. Because, really—despite the frigid cold temperatures (and endless lake effect snow)—wintertime is truly enjoyable. And you really CAN exercise out there. Just make note of the following:

1) Stick to running, walking and hiking. Obviously a bike won't go in the snow. Although skis most certainly will. Take advantage of the fluff and sign yourself up for a day filled with activities meant for colder temperatures. My personal favorite? Running when the wind isn't blowing but the flakes are falling ever-so-gently. Like leaves, the sound of crunching snow underneath my feet really motivates me. And reminds me how beautiful snowy scenery can be.

2) Check the temps. And watch the windchill factor. Wind can make everything seem much colder than it actually is, and if it's too cold out there, you'll find yourself at risk for hypothermia. Otherwise known as heat loss. The National Safety Council believes that people can be safe in weather at or above 20F. Even IF the wind is kickin' in. You just have to be properly insulated.

3) Dress in layers. And wear a scarf. The colder the air, the harder it is to breathe. Shielding your mouth with a scarf helps warm the air as passes into your body, making it easier for you to put that air to work. Going back to the concept of layering, limit the amount of skin that stays exposed to the elements. Choose dry-wick clothing, which is lightweight and helps keep you from sweating yourself out of style. And wear a hat. Your mother was right when she told you that most of the heat in your body escapes from your head. But that's not to say you shouldn't worry about significant coverage for your hands and feet.

4) Pick proper footwear. Motion control and traction are two very important factors as you'll be in contact with ice and bumpy, uneven surfaces. Think your sidewalks are adequately shoveled? Remind yourself that "black ice" does exist, and shoveled sidewalks aren't an instantaneous thing. Get caught in falling snow and your path ahead might get bumpy fairly quickly. The shoes at right are available from Nike for both men and women, and they're getting decent reviews. In fact, I bet all of Nike's cold weather gear gets good reviews from men and women alike!

5) Consider getting a RoadID.

They're good for any outdoor running scenario, really. I mean, I hate to be graphic, but what would happen if you got hit by a car and they couldn't identify you because you were, know.  I got one for my birthday from my mother (they know best) and I plan on wearing it whenever I hit the roads. Even if I'm on my bike.

The story behind the RoadID is pretty stinkin' cute. Well, not "cute." Smart? Something to learn from?

Anyways, consider getting one for the runner on your "nice" list. And consider going for a run in the great, wintery outdoors. You might like it. Just bundle up. And drink some water before you leave.

Question: Are you a fan of running outside in the winter? Why or why not?

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