Thursday, September 20, 2018

Lauren French

Layer up: Even freeze babies can enjoy winter running

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    Reporter Lauren French stands in the entryway of her home on Jan. 4 in Eau Claire after a group run. The weather that evening was five degrees below zero, but French and her roommate decided to make the trek anyway.

    Contributed photo

Contrary to my previous adamantly held belief, it is indeed possible to go running outside in the winter and enjoy it.

As part of a New Years resolution, I’m trying to spend more time outdoors this winter season because I know the nature enthusiast in me will be happier if I do. So far, I’ve bundled up for a midnight meteor shower; obtained heated shoe inserts so my feet are toasty on long outdoor excursions; and at least contemplated picking up downhill skiing again for the first time since a socially traumatic incident in the sixth grade.

I’ll work up to that last one. In the meantime, I’m working on getting back to outdoor activities I typically enjoy in warmer weather. That includes running, though I’ve always been heavily skeptical that I’d find running outside in below-zero weather worth it in the end.

Turns out, all you really need is good gear and positive company.

On Jan. 4, my roommate, Rachel, and I decided to brave the cold and participate in a community run hosted through the new running business in downtown Eau Claire, Blue Ox Running. The temperature that night was 5 degrees below zero.

To keep warm, I used the following layers (some of which Rachel graciously loaned me): a pair of tall and thin SmartWool socks; fleece-lined leggings; a pair of tall and thick SmartWool socks over the top of the first two layers; a merino wool, long-sleeved shirt; a warm Patagonia sweater; my Leader-Telegram windbreaker; a thin neck warmer extended over the top of my head; a fleece neck warmer; a pair of gloves; and a Packers hat.

It took a while to get dressed, but most of my body was toasty throughout the 3.5-mile run. If anyone uses this blog as a dressing guide for their own winter run, consider adding another layer to your thighs. Mine weren’t unbearably cold, but they weren’t comfortably warm either.

Cold legs aside, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of fun I had. The people we met were friendly and in high spirits, and there was hot chocolate waiting at the end of the run — with marshmallows. Worth it.

— Lauren French, reporter

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