So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Winter Running, Florida-Style

And yes, that is snow in there. That's Ski Dubai, the only place in the UAE where you might find the (once again, a John Parker quote) white stuff that falls from God. You have to see it for yourself to believe it really exists, namely an indoor ski slope, toboggan run & refreshment lodge in the middle of the desert...all right, how about in the middle of a shopping mall in the desert...with a Krispy Kreme on the ground floor. But I digress from the topic on which I really wanted to write. Returned home from Dubai last Sunday, where the average daytime temperature was closer to 85 than it was 65, the average here in the Redneck Riviera. Before I am accused of complaining about the lack of culture or temperature here at this particular time, let me say I like running in the autumn & winter here in the Florida Panhandle. Most of my friends from around the Northern Hemisphere, in the continental US and Canada, would give their eye-teeth to have nearly year-round training which we here take so much for granted.
Most of the locals here, from my own observation, tend to shut down their training when the conditions are too hot or too cold for their taste, which leaves a window of about two weeks in the year where they get any quality time in. Ah, but that's a personal problem and an unintentional dig. Those of you who feel offended can get in line because I have many persons to which I owe mea culpas.
It's much like my work place...I prefer to have the air conditioning working in full effect because I can always add clothing if things get too cold...which to me beats sweating like a pig. But again I digress. The challenge of running during this time of year is knowing how much clothing to have on, the ability to adjust on the fly for conditions, and portability. I have written on this particular topic before; marveling at the locals who dress more like Nanook of the North at a road race when the temperature drops below 60 degrees...and subsequently overheating at the first mile. Never pretty. After taking a few dollars to invest in cycling arm and leg warmers, I would highly recommend them for running use. Especially the arm warmers. They can be rolled down around your wrists when the conditions are more temperate, or pulled back up when you begin to catch a chill. The use of bicycle-style tights (4-to-8-inch inseam) and removable knee warmers, or knicker-style tights are a happy alternative to worrying over whether to wear running shorts or long tights. Once again, around here, the need to use long tights only comes probably about three to four weeks through the deadest part of winter. Hats (almost a must, as you can retain more heat from your head this way) and gloves are also helpful, especially if your hands and ears get cold easily. Let your conscience be your guide.
Two more items to consider, make that three: Lights/reflectors, glasses, and hydration. Few of us have the opportunity to run during the middle portion of the day and use that decreased amount of daylight, so most of the runs are going to be in conditions that are dark, or near-dark. An ounce of lighting and reflection is worth a pound of pounding from a local driver heading to or from work who is not paying attention to what's going on around them. Pay close attention to drivers, and prepare an escape plan at all times during your run. A pair of sunglasses with interchangeable or photochromic lenses, preferably polarized, will also help cut down the glare of headlights and the effects of sunlight (different from summer conditions). Lastly, don't forget to hydrate, especially important as you won't feel the need to do so like during summer time. However, you still are losing water to perspiration and water vapor from breathing. Just because you're not sweating like you did during the summer doesn't mean your body isn't regulating its core temperature any less.
See you on the track.

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