Thursday, January 10, 2013

Winter Running At Night

Winter Running At Night

These days, my only running is taking place at night after I get off work. Night running is nothing really new, nor is it anything special. Tons of people do it. But do they run at night, at altitude, in the winter? Sure, I've seen others every once and awhile out and about here in the valley, but it is fairly rare. Plus, it is damn cold! For example, over the past two weeks, I've run six times at night in -5 to -15 F on snow covered roads and trails. When it is below zero, running at night takes on an entirely new realm. If you carry water, it will freeze (usually around the one hour mark), and depending on how you dress, you may just never warm up. However, running in the winter in below zero weather is not impossible, and actually can be quite enjoyable. Here is what I do and wear:

Outdoor research Radiant Hybrid tights
Running shorts under the tights

A synthetic long underwear shirt (Patagonia, REI, etc.)
A t-shirt over that
A nylon running windbreaker jacket

An old Pearl Izumi running hat
Petzl Tikka headlamp

Cheap gardening gloves

Brooks Adrenaline Gore-Tex trail runners
Running socks (I like SmartWool)

That is it. Even on really cold days like last week when it was -15 F this set up works. I'm basically running the Winter Park Hill loop, which is an easy 8.5-9 mile loop with 1,000' of gain. I usually warm up about halfway up the first climb, and although my hands are only covered in cheap cotton gardening gloves, they also get warm. I don't wear any form of traction, and unless there is no moon, I usually try and run stealth. Running with no traction and in stealth mode forces one to "feel" the ground and work on finding a "flow". Once I get warmed up and in a good groove, I don't seem to notice any traction issues (on the ups or downs). My time is not as fast as say during the summer (I'm averaging around 1:17 for this run either direction), but I also wouldn't run this run in the summer. There are only a few more weeks of the bitter cold before the generally warmer Feb. and March storms start to roll through (and longer days), and although I've cut way back on my running for Dec. and Jan., I don't feel like I've lost a ton of fitness. Feb. and March are building months, with a general goal of being ready to start real training in April (unlike last year when I started running in April). Hopefully if all works out, I'll be ready for some goals I have in mind for July and August in the mountains.


  1. -15 and you are only doing garden gloves? I need to go to the wool mitts for sure!

  2. I was thinking about this last night on my run. It was -18 and I chickened out and put on an extra layer on the legs and upper body (tights and a fleece). Sure made the run a bit nicer - I might have been too minimal in my gear lately! Still, I only ran with the gardening gloves and they warmed up after a nice ice layer built on the outside ;).