Frozen Extremeties

In my many years of running, I’ve never scaled back my training because of the weather. When it’s especially bad, I like going for a run even more because of the challenge.

The only time I passed up running because of bad conditions was when Ice Storm hit the Spokane area in 1996. Heavy snow followed by frozen rain brought down trees and power lines. Back then I took the bus to work and did a six mile run home. I was about to leave when my wife at the time showed up and said it was crazy to run, and she was driving me home. Only because she asserted herself did I relent. As we drove home, I saw how right she was.

The coldest temperature I’ve run in is -15 degrees F. When it gets very cold, I wear a cap, three layers on my upper body, two layers for the legs, and mittens over gloves because my hands are especially susceptible to cold. I wear nothing extra on my feet – they always stay warm. However, years ago I learned a hard lesson about a body part you normally don’t worry about while running.

One afternoon I went running when it was around 12 degrees fahrenheit. A very strong wind was blowing, and it went right through the sweat pants I was wearing. A very important body part got very, very cold. So cold that I was in a lot of pain the last couple miles of my run.

You’ve probably experienced how the thawing process of a very cold body part can be painful. Well, that’s how it was for me after I got home. I thought I would have permanent damage. It took a long, achy time for this part to finally return to its normal condition.

Nowadays, anytime it’s below 15 degrees F, I stuff something into my training pants, usually a sock, for added protection.


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