Happy November! As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, it’s important to make sure that you are staying safe if you choose to be active outside. Whether you are new to Alaska or have lived here your whole life, consider this to be your yearly reminder to make sure you are wearing clothing and lights so you can be visible to the world around you. I’m pretty bad at remembering these things myself, so this reminder is beneficial to me as well.
If you are able to get outside, it is important to make sure that you have the appropriate gear to make sure that you will be seen. One of my favorite additions to my running wardrobe is my Tracer vest. This battery-powered vest has both blinking and solid color variations while weighing next-to-nothing. I hate having to put on a ton of layers, so the fact that this vest is lightweight was a huge plus. If I know I’m going to be on an especially dark trail, I often add a few more blinking lights just in case I run into bikers. I like to use some small, blinking lights from Nathan because I can clip them onto anything. I will usually clip them to the hood of my jacket or onto the waistband of my tights in the back. I usually try to wear a pair of gloves or mittens that have some sort of reflective strip on it as well. Craft has a hybrid glove-mitten that has been my go-to this season. While it is unfortunate that most people seem to have to train in the dark these days, headlamps make the transition to less daylight much easier. I have a hard time keeping headlamps on my head as I have found that they bounce a lot. However, I found a light last winter that I love more than any headlamp I’ve ever tried. The One80 light works as a light bar instead of just one beam and provides 180 degrees of peripheral light. This light bar has velcro that can either be attached to a band that goes on your head or your waist. Personally, I wear mine on my waist and it works great, no bouncing. If you also hate wearing things on your head, I cannot recommend the One80 light enough.
Clothing is a completely different beast when it comes to running and being active in the winter. Even though I’ve lived in Alaska my whole life, I still feel like I am learning what is best to wear when exercising. Because I usually tend to overheat when I run, I tend to wear fewer layers on average. I will typically wear one or two layers on top, like a lightweight, capilene long-sleeve top, and then a thicker sweater or jacket on top. I often will only wear one thick pair of tights unless it is less than 10 degrees. Once it gets to single digits, I will wear a pair of Craft pants over my tights. I also try to make sure that I wear some kind of buff, whether it’s a thin fabric or fleece lined. The line of headbands, hats, and buffs from Skida is my absolute favorite. Along the lines of visibility, I try to make sure that at least my top or tights are somewhat reflective. If you are in doubt about your clothing choices, it is always safer to err on the side of caution and wear more. You can always take layers off!
Pro tip: always leave extra clothes in your car if you can! It is important to change out of your workout clothes as soon as possible after finishing your activity before you get cold. Being cold, especially while driving, is the worst! My go-to’s include a puffy jacket, a sweatshirt, extra sweats or tights, and slippers.
Okay, let’s talk about footwear for the winter months! The number one question I hear in terms of staying active during this time of year is what to do about footwear. And the answer is that it depends on the level of traction. One very basic, but effective option is to have a current pair of shoes studded at our store. We put 10 studs in each shoe to help with traction. If you want shoes that already come pre-studded, we carry both the Icebug brand and a few Salomon models as well. Icebugs are a great option because they come in so many styles from traditional running shoes to ankle-high boots to a more casual, calf-high, zip-up boot. Many of these styles also come in Gortex versions which are super great for keeping your feet warm and dry in the cold. Salomon also has a few shoes that are very similar to their normal running shoe collection that come in both a low-top and ankle-high version. I have the ankle-high Salomon and it was a game-changer in my motivation to keep training outside in the winter. I never felt out of control in terms of traction and my feet stayed warm and dry throughout the entire season. I also love the extra fabric around the ankle because I hate getting snow in my shoes. If you are not sure if you want to commit to either studding a current shoe you have or to buying a pre-studded shoe, we have other slip-on traction devices from Kahtoola like Microspikes as well as similar products from the Korkers brand.
Hopefully, these tips will help make transitioning into the snow and darkness much easier this year! Looking forward to hearing what you all think and if you have any other suggestions! Stay healthy and safe this season!