I’ll Take Cold Over Wind Anyday!

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I mentioned how Lisa made note that while I am not technically on a ‘running streak’, I am still running most every day. I had been noticing increased effort level, but that is also normal for the extreme cold and somewhat crappy weather conditions we’ve been experiencing. But as a result I decided to take two days off – in a row – this week to give my body a nice break. It was a great reset and I was ready to go when Tuesday arrived!

Over the last week or so we have had winds regularly in the 10-15MPH range, meaning that wind chills have been single digits to below zero all the time. Monday night things changed, the wind calmed down and the temperatures dropped quite a bit. Yesterday morning when I was ready for my run it was 4F outside, but there was nominally no wind.

Now ‘no wind’ is a deceptive thing, especially as the entire area I run is elevated from the flats of the airport where the weather data are captured. But all that means is I figure in a couple extra MPH of wind, lowering the temperature a degree or two.

But the difference in 4F with very light winds (probably ~0-2F with wind) and 13F with a 3F wind chill is amazing. It was snowing as well (about an inch dropped during my run), and the breeze was just enough to blow those ice crystals into my face but not enough to make things miserable.

Here are a few of my thoughts on Cold vs. Wind:

  • Preparing for cold means layers … when it is below 10F I wear a base layer and overlayer for both top and bottom. Below 5F I add my balaclava, and when it hits -5 I add my wool face shield and a second glove layer.
  • Cover your nose – everyone remembers to cover head and hands, but having your nose out and about for a long time in sub-zero temperatures is a bad idea!
  • All temperatures and wind chills are not created equal- depending on the temperature trend (rising or falling) and wind direction (bringing in colder or warmer air), you can feel colder or warmer than expected.
  • For the wind, the reality is you are simultaneously preparing for THREE temperatures: the nominal air temperature, the average temperature with wind, and the strongest wind gusts. With reasonably strong winds (which we get) this can be a range of more than 20 degrees!
  • Another wind problem is that you will sweat in still wind areas and that sweat can freeze when the wind picks up – making wicking materials very important. However, with strong gusts the lightweight tech fabrics can let air through and use your sweat to make you feel colder.
  • The snow can complicate things, and if you are running on a windy, snowy day, realize that visibility is compromised.
  • Also on the snow – those flying ice crystals can really burn your face on a windy day, so use caution!
  • Conventional wisdom says to run into the wind going out so it will be at your back coming home. I don’t know about you, but any of my routes have all sorts of twists and turns that send wind at me from all directions!
  • You are NOT freezing your lungs! There was talk about how breathing the cold windy air was damaging your lungs and freezing things … but that isn’t true. You DO get cold, but your mucous membranes are there to protect you from the cold dry air – but will get dried and irritated from doing so. Expect all of the normal runny nose, scratchy throat and so on for a while, but they should subside fairly soon.

It is interesting that this morning the temperature was 15F when I headed out for my run, and there was again very little wind. I dressed for 15F – dual layers, had and gloves. But what I didn’t do was factor in the coming change in the weather. Over the next few days our low temperatures are going to exceed the HIGH temperatures of the last couple of weeks!

As a result the air temperature felt much warmer than 15, and the snowflakes coming down were large and fluffy and more like the ones you’d expect when the temperature is around 25F! Naturally I ended up completely covered in sweat by the end of my run, and my hands were warm enough that I did the ‘final sprint’ on my street with my gloves off! Fortunately the wind didn’t suddenly pick up – because I would have gotten a serious chill!

I am very much looking forward to running the next few days in light winter clothes!

How do you deal with the cold, and how do you feel about the wind compared to cold?

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7 thoughts on “I’ll Take Cold Over Wind Anyday!

  1. I HATE wind. I’m also a cyclist, and in my opinion is a bigger reason to hate wind. Wind on a run can annoy you; wind on a ride can destroy you. Cold you can prepare for (kinda, and it still sucks), but wind just whips around on a whim. Wow, I sound kinda bitter. But Nebraska is so flat, we just don’t get many stretches of path to ride that aren’t just big old wind tunnels.

    • I tried to do some biking before I got heavily back into running two years ago, and went for a long ride in cold temperatures – and you generate so much wind just riding that it is chilling … adding headwinds makes it even worse! Brrr! And those big flat open areas … once the wind starts it just doesn’t stop! I visited there a couple of times before we moved to NY (almost ended up working in Lincoln), gorgeous, but OMG flat! πŸ™‚

  2. This is SO HELPFUL! We haven’t had temperatures that cold yet, but I know they are coming at some point and I was pretty clueless on how to deal with it. Thank you for all the info! I never would have thought about keeping my nose covered. πŸ™‚

    • Most normal people don’t seek being outside going for a vigorous run in temperatures low enough to risk frostbite to their nose … I know this πŸ™‚ Hopefully you won’t ever get yourself in that position!

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