Archive for the 'gear' Category


Running Outside When It’s -10°F and Living to Tell The Tale

In my last post I discussed the gear that I wear for winter runs. However, this covered my gear for New York, and Minneapolis is quite a bit colder. Horribly cold. The last two mornings have been -1°F and -8°F. Cold!

January 22, 2011 Weather Report for Minneapolis, MN

Saturday Morning: -1°F, feels like -14°F. I can hack that right? Oh wait, it's supposed to get colder during the run‽

January 23, 2011 Weather Report for Minneapolis, MN

Sunday Morning: -8°F, but at least there is no wind. Whew!

When it’s this cold I need a lot more gear. I switch to the treadmill at -10°F, so this is extreme. I wear the same base layers shown in the last post, but add a full length pair of workout pants, an extra pair of socks and gloves, a hooded sweatshirt, and most importantly, a balaclava. This usually keeps me quite warm — so warm that I sweat and sometimes get overheated. The sweat causes the creation of some interesting ice formations, as you can see from this picture I shot of myself at the end of my run this morning.

My protected face after an -8°F run

It was perfectly clear skies during my run. All that "snow" is condensation from my sweat. Awesome!

I didn’t realize until after I entered the house that I had a couple of 2 inch long icicles handing from my Balaclava. Although, I was completely aware during the run that my eyes were freezing up. Some folks might say that it’s really stupid to go running in these conditions, but if you dress appropriately you’ll be richly rewarded. Minneapolis on a cold Sunday morning is great. During my entire 4.3 mile run today I saw two other runners and one person walking a dog. I didn’t see a single car and the city was quiet. The view of St. Anthony falls was wonderful and there was no sounds other than my screw shoes crunching over the snow and ice. What a wonderful experience.

Got any tips for running in really cold weather? More specifically, got any hints to keep your eyes from freezing up?


Running is a Minimalist Sport, Right?

I confess, I’m not a naked runner. I’m not one of those people who puts on a just a pair of running shorts — not shirt, no shoes, no iPod, no nothing — and goes out for a run. I think the big reason for that is where I live. It’s cold in both Minneapolis and New York. It also gets dark early and the paths are rarely plowed. In fact, I think that I might be the opposite of a naked runner. Want proof? Here’s a picture of me before a recent evening run:

Me dressed up for a cold weather night run in New York

This is what I look like when I go out for a cold weather run. I'm pretty sure I'd get beaten up in high school for dressing like this.

Petzl Tikka2 Plus Headlamp Generic Target Headband Generic Target Tech Shirt Underarmour Cold Gear Compression Shirt iPhone 4 with RunKeeper Spibelt Generic Target Running Shorts Manzell Running Gloves Reebok Compression Running Tights Injinji Toe Socks Injinji Toe Socks Vibram FiveFingers KSO Remix Vibram FiveFingers KSO Remix
  • Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp – This is a great little light that puts out some serious punch for how small it is. It’s a little expensive otherwise, but I received it as a gift and have been very happy with it. I’ll post a review of the light shortly.
  • Generic Headband from Target – Nothing interesting to say here. I think I got this for $3 from target many years ago when I needed something to keep my ears warm while biking in the winter. It does it’s job, but often ends up very wet and kinda stinky after a run.
  • Under Armour Cold Gear Longsleeve Compression Shirt – The best investment I’ve made when it comes to running in the winter. Compression base layers keep me warm and also keep my nipples from chafing.
  • Generic Tech Shirt from Target – I’ve got a lot of these generic running shirts from Target. They’re slowly being phased out as I get more technical shirts from runs. They’re not the highest quality shirts, but they work quite well and are light weight. Unfortunately, they’re also murder on my nipples.
  • iPhone4 with RunKeeper and Really Beat-up Headphones – I’ve been tracking my runs with RunKeeper for the last two years. It’s been the best $10 I spent for an iPhone app. However, right now you don’t need to spend that sort of money, RunKeeper Pro is FREE until the end of January!
  • SPIbelt – I originally picked this up for the Big Sur Marathon in 2010. I needed someplace to hold my gels and a camera for during the race. I’ve since started using it to carry my phone on any run when I’m wearing long sleeves and it’s difficult to use my armband.
  • Manzella Running Gloves – These aren’t the greatest gloves, but they’re lightweight and keep my fingers pretty dry because they wick moisture away. However, on sub-zero days in Minneapolis my fingers get very cold in them. I also wish they were brighter for safety.
  • Generic Running Shorts from Target – With all the races that give out shirts, you’d think that some would give out running shorts. I could use some more pairs of these guys. In the future I’ll upgrade to a better brand as these guys often cause chafing.
  • Reebok Running Tights – Probably the second best investment I’ve made when it comes to cold weather running. I used to run in athletic pants, but they would only work kinda okay. Running tights are a godsend. Plus, when it’s cold and I have to stand around outside, such as volunteering for a New York Road Runners race, I can wear them under my jeans.
  • injinji Rainbow Colored Mini Crew Toesocks – If my shoes are already gaudy, I might as go all out right? These guys work very well for keeping my feet warmer when running in my FiveFingers and also dramatically reduce the smell.
  • Vibram FiveFingers KSO Remix Shoes – I’m not certain if I’m 100% sold on the hype around barefoot running, but I do run in my FiveFingers. They allow me to connect with the surfaces in a different way, making a run much more fun and also forcing me to use different muscles while running. Ouch, my calf muscles hurt!

I’d love to find a way to go more minimalist, but there also is a safety and comfort element for running in the dark in the winter. I’ve started to periodically drop the headphones, so the only sound I hear is the ambient sound. In addition to being safer, it helps me keep in the zone for running. Beyond that, it’s difficult to think of any way to go more minimalist. Any hints? What’s your cold weather gear look like?


Running on Ice with Screw Shoes

As I’ve mentioned before, I train primarily in New York City, but also spend a lot of time in Minneapolis. While the snow in New York tends to disappear pretty quickly, once it snows in Minneapolis it generally sticks around all winter. Unfortunately, because most of the running paths along the river and through the park do not get enough use, they’ll keep a nice layer of ice on them all winter long.

I attempted to compensate for this when I purchased a couple of new pairs of shoes for running in Minnesota.  I purchased one pair of road running shoes and another pair of trail running shoes (a big shout out to Adidas outlet stores and buy 1 get 1 sales).  The thought was to use the trail runners on the snow and ice and road runners once the weather became more manageable in mid-April.  Unfortunately, as I discovered on my first run in the Minneapolis on Wednesday morning, this was not going to cut it.  My time was fairly slow, to be expected because of the 13°F air temperature, but it was extra slow because of patches of glare ice and rough ice that I needed to slowly navigate.  On Thursday morning my pace improved slightly, despite a lower air temperature around 4°F, but I chalk that up to regaining some of my Minnesota footing and knowing where particularly icy spots in the path were.

I knew that if I wanted to run better in the ice and snow I needed a better solution.  Talking to friends and googling around, I came upon three possible solutions.


Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats (image from E. Krinker on

YakTrax are nifty elastic bands encased in a metal spring that wrap around your shoe and provide dozens of extra contact points with the ground. They’re designed to fit over both shoes and boots and come in a variety of styles, including the durable Pro style.  YakTrax came recommended by several friends in the Chicago area who used them for walking through Chicago snowbanks.  They’re widely available at retail stores such as REI and retail for around $30.

Unfortunately, YakTrax don’t seem to be built for running.  While many runners have had great luck using them for light runs, I’m fairly certain that they would break after a couple of weeks of 50 mile runs.  For most runners they seem to break by having one of the pieces of elastic give way.


Stabilicers Sport (image from

Stabilicers from 32North are a slightly less common option that seem a little more durable than YakTrax. Rather than a series of elastic bands, Stabilicers are more like an additional sole that is strapped to your shoe.  This sole is designed to provide additional traction and features a set of spikes, which can be easily replaced.   It’s also possible to find them at retail, although my REI store didn’t have them, although their online site does.  They retail for about $40 for a pair of the Stabilicers Sport, which have great reviews on REI.  However, the lack of instant gratification made this a little more difficult for me.

Screw Shows

The most low-tech solution was to create a pair of Screw Shoes.  This option was suggested be a friend who read about them in Runner’s World and provide a link to a summary article about screw shoes because the article was not available online.  A little more searching led me to Matt Carpenter’s article about Screw Shoes, where he goes into detail about sizing of screws and extolls readers to make their own.   This seemed like the least expensive solution.  A trip to Home Depot and $3.15 later, I had 36 #6 3/8″ hex head screws in my possession.

Now, here’s the key to my success with Screw Shoes, get a drill with a magnetic hex driver.  If you’re using #6 screws, the 1/4″ hex driver head should work just fine.  Then, just put them all around your shoes in the deepest parts.  In my case this was where the tread was extra deep for trail running. After about 10 minutes of work, I had 18 screws in each of my shoes and I was eager to try them out for New Year’s Day.

My Screw Shoes: The Adidas Kanadia 2 - Awesome on the Top Side

My Screw Shoes: The Adidas Kanadia 2 - Killer on the Bottom Side!

While it was -4°F on New Year’s morning, I still had the best times in the last week. At first I was a little cautious, the shows felt a little funny, especially on pavement.  The whole sole wasn’t making contact and they really bit into the pavement.  It was a hard run.  As soon as I hit ice, about a quarter block away on the sidewalk, the different was night and day.  Where before I was extra cautious, I could easily cruise over the ice with no worries.  I began to tempt fate and run over the black ice, the really slick stuff.  No problems, the shoes bit and let me cruise over at near normal speeds.

After my first run in Screw Shoes this morning, I can easily say that they’re more than worth the $3.15 and 10 minutes of work — not the best $3.15, that would be bandaids or Body Glide, but they make running in winter possible.  Of course, on the down side, I’ve just relegated this pair of shoes to winter running only — but what pleasant winter running it is.

Sadly, it looks like this may be the last time on this trip I get to use the Screw Shoes.  They’re miserable for running on pavement, and I’m sure they’d destroy a treadmill, which as you can see from the forecast for tomorrow, is going to get some use.  Running at -10°F is one thing, but -18°F with a -32°F wind chill is too extreme for me.

-18°F at 9am? That's a bit too cold for running outside. Time to hit the dreadmill!

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Marathon Times

2011 NYC Marathon3:57:45
2011 Hartford Marathon3:58:17
2011 Chicago Marathon4:20:16
2011 Grandma's Marathon4:07:43
2010 Big Sur International Marathon4:22:49
2009 NYC Marathon4:37:05
2009 Twin Cities Marathon4:43:28
2009 Pittsburgh Marathon4:14:38
2008 Erie Marathon5:11:40

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  • Nov 6 - New York City Marathon, New York, NY
For previous races, check out my Race Log