, Salem, MA

November 20, 2008

On The Run column: Don't let cold weather slow you down

By Jay Kumar

On The Run

Jay Kumar

As much as we'd like to, there's no denying the fact that frigid temperatures have finally arrived in the area this week.

For some runners, it means the end of outdoor runs until the spring and possibly a move to the treadmill. For other, hardier souls, it means breaking out the cold weather gear.

I'm one of those folks who prefer to run in shorts for as long as possible. When the temperatures start dipping below 40, I'll reluctantly put on running pants. But running in cold weather requires more than just additional clothing.

Protect your brain

According to some studies, you lose 40 percent of your body's heat through your head, so make sure you wear a hat to provide some protection from the cold and wind. It could be the same lightweight cap made of moisture-wicking material that you wear any other time of the year.

In sub-freezing temperatures, a warmer hat is advisable, but the days of bulky wool headgear are long gone. There are plenty of hats made of fleece, wool or other materials to protect your ears from frostbite without making your head feel like it's got a down comforter wrapped around it.

Don't overheat

It's possible to go overboard on winter gear. Think twice if you're bulking up with a tech shirt, a sweatshirt and a vest or jacket. Even though those first 10 minutes will be chilly, after that you'll probably find yourself sweating up a storm. Make sure the first layer you have on is made of a synthetic wicking material; if you wear a cotton shirt, you'll just have to a soaked garment that will make you even colder. Wear an outer layer that can serve as a windbreaker and keep rain and snow from soaking through.

Don't forget to hydrate

Even if you think you're less thirsty in cold weather than on a hot, humid day, don't forget to drink plenty of fluids before and after your run. You can still get dehydrated, especially if the wind is in your face. If you're doing a long run, it's still a good idea to bring water, although I've had a few runs that were so cold that the bottle valve froze.

See and be seen

With daylight at a premium, if you're running in the early morning or evening hours, you're probably doing so in the dark. Don't rely on motorists to watch out for you; if you're in the road, wear reflective clothing so you don't end up mounted on a car hood.

Be aware of your surroundings, especially the road surface for ice, snow, potholes, rocks, etc. It's really easy to trip on something and injure yourself, especially if there aren't a lot of street lights around. Sidewalks can still be dangerous, especially if tree roots or frost heaves have caused them to be uneven.

Sock it to 'em

Whatever you do, don't wear cotton socks. You can get thicker running socks for winter running, but make sure they're made of moisture-wicking fabric so you don't get blisters or frostbite.

Use common sense

Pay attention to the conditions outside and use good judgment. If visibility is poor, temps are sub-zero or there's an ice storm going on, it's probably best to put off your run until another time or find a treadmill.

Starts and stops

Thanksgiving is only a week away, so why not plan to get a road race in before you stuff your face?

Locally, there are two great options: The fifth annual Wild Turkey 5-Mile Run in Salem and the 21st annual Feaster Five, which includes 5-mile (or 8K), 5K and Kids' K races, in Andover. (See the calendar listings below for details). And check out for information on the many other Turkey Day races going on throughout the state — cranberry sauce not included.

A great way to commit to running in 2009 is to sign up for a road race series. There are two such series based on the North Shore. The Salem Park, Recreation, and Community Services 2009 Road Race Series, which starts with the Frosty Four on New Year's Day and continues through next Thanksgiving. Go to for details.

The Saucony North Shore YMCA Road Race Series was a collection of 11 races held throughout this year; details for the 2009 series haven't been released yet, but check for information at

And if you don't mind a little driving, there's the Will Run for Beer Series sponsored by Loco Running. The series consists of six races in Salisbury or on the New Hampshire Seacoast. Visit for details.


On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to


Upcoming races

Thursday, Nov. 27: 5th Annual Wild Turkey 5-Mile Run, Salem Common, Salem, 8 a.m. Race to benefit Boys and Girls Club and Park and Recreation Dept). Contact Doug Bollen (Salem Recreation Department), 5 Broad St, Salem, MA, USA, 01970, call 978-744-0180 or e-mail

* 21st Annual Feaster Five (8K, 5K, and Kids' K races), Andover, 8 a.m. Kids' K starts at 8 a.m., 5K run and walk and 5-mile run and walk all start at 8:30. Visit for more information.

Friday, Nov. 28: Inaugural Gabe's Run (2.9-mile cross-country run and 1-mile family fun run), Patton Park, South Hamilton, 10 a.m. First annual reunion run to benefit the Gabriel Pacione Memorial Scholarship Fund. Contact: Jeff Pacione (Gabe's Fund), 8 Larch Row, Wenham, MA, 01984, call 978-468-3224 or e-mail

Saturday, Dec. 6: Third annual Reindeer Run 5K, Cabot Street YMCA, Beverly, 10 a.m. Register online at

Sunday, Dec. 7: Jolly Jaunt 2008 Danvers (5K and 1K Kids Fun Run), Beverly Hospital at Danvers, 480 Maple St., Danvers, 12:30 p.m. Special Olympics fundraiser. Contact Emma KarrlssonWillis (Special Olympics MA North Section), 100 Conifer Hill Drive, Suite 301-302, Danvers, MA 01923 or call 978-750-0632.

Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009: Wicked Frosty Four, Old Town Hall, Derby Square, Salem, 10 a.m. Technical Shirts free for the first 200 applicants, post-race food and beverages. Contact Rich Tomlins (Wicked Running Club), 61 Lexington Circle, Swampscott, MA, 01907, call 1-781-572-5354 or e-mail

* 28th Bud Light Hangover Classic 5K/10K, Salisbury Beach Center, 11:45 a.m. Starts at Bevie B's, 3 Broadway Street, Salisbury. Followed by optional ocean plunge. Contact: Bob Manning (Winners Circle Running Club), 1 Lorum Street, Newburyport, MA, 01950 or e-mail


Visit for more race listings.