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Cold Weather Running: Warm Hands

Well, it’s cold again. Not the wear-a-mask-or-you’ll-freeze-your-lungs kind of cold. But still pretty cold. My bike commute to teach yoga this morning was a brisk 8 degrees (yes, Fahrenheit) with enough wind to make my 25 minute ride a 35 minute out 20 minute back adventure. As I rode along I was reminded of a dialog I had with legedary mountain climber Conrad Anker when he passed through town promoting his documentary, “The Wildest Dream.”

If you’ve never been to a film screening where the star and/or director is there, it is quite an experience. Quite a frustrating experience that is. You see, given the chance for Q & A with a guy who has been up Mt. Everest and summitted more epic peaks than a Himalayan Sherpa, most of us would ask questions related to climbing, right? Instead, at events like this, film majors will ask the star/director endless questions about camera gear, lenses, angles, and other techie crap that the star is completely oblivious about.

So anyway, I finally get a chance to ask a question. My question: “How the hell do you stay warm up there and use your hands.” It’s a legit question. Anyone can put on $900 of gear from REI and brave out a little cold. But Conrad had to use his hands for climbing up there. He couldn’t just bundle up like Ralphie’s little brother from “A Christmas Story” and hope to stay on his feet. He had to be functional. After a small yet well placed product plug, his answer was simple. Wear more base layers. Not thicker gloves or better liners. More base layers. Interesting.

Apparently the body does a good job of disbursing heat in the most efficient way possible. When the core is wrapped in a dozen layers of clothing, it has to shunt blood to the extremities which, in turn, will help keep them warm. So the next time your running or cycling training partner complains that their gloves aren’t doing them any good and their fingers are cold, tell them to put on another shirt and stick with the gloves they have.

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2 Responses to Cold Weather Running: Warm Hands

  1. Sarah says:

    Yep, I learned this as a ski instructor for little kids at 11,000 feet, when I had to constantly help with zipping jackets, wiping noses, and buckling boots. Overheat your core and your hands will be toasty. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for my toes, but I suspect that’s because I’ve had one too many mild cases of frost bite.

    Also, mittens are better than gloves, because you have skin-to-skin contact, but less useful for actually using your hands. But they would work well on a run.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I never would have thought about ‘base layers’ to keep your extremities warm. Its certainly not 8 degrees in California but I will try this the next time I’m out riding or running! Thanks for the tip and the funny ‘Christmas Story’ reference.