Cold Weather Running Gear

I normally don’t do a “what to wear” when it get’s cold post.  So many bloggers do and I try to avoid redundancy when you can find what you need in every corner of the blogosphere.  However, Chicagoland has been blasted with cold, wind and sub zero temps for weeks now and I’ve been feeling as if I need to address it.  If you are part of the F’N Running Club or follow me on the TTF Facebook page then I glanced over it when it was 6 degrees last weekend but here is a full length version in the event that you or a friend need some additional guidance. 

Temps Drop But Running Wont Stop

Base Layers – Possibly the most important cold weather investment.  Super important.  Don’t skimp here and go to a discount retailer, I buy the real stuff from Under Armour because they “do” cold weather and they “get” the fact that we are going to be OUTSIDE doing what we love, no matter what.  I personally prefer the mock or turtle neck style to get a little coverage up on my neck.  Under Armour ColdGear Fitted Mock Neck ($49) below.   I also wear a long bra top (form fitted running tank with shelf bra), any brand.  I have a ton and buy them everywhere from Target to Kohl’s to various online retailers. I put those fitted tanks (or a tee would work) UNDER the Mock Neck when it’s super cold, like now.  

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Outer Layer – Preferably a wind jacket or heavy-duty, quality half of full zip.  My wind jacket is from Athleta, the Headwinds Jacket ($99), which I think is on clearance now ($85).  I’ve had it for probably 5 years and every time I wear it people think it’s new.  Love it and it really holds in the heat and keeps out the wind.  I’m sure other wind jackets would work, I’ve heard that New Balance has an amazing WindBlocker line but this is what I own, mine is red from who  knows which year:

image   Waterfall Glen_Black FRI_2013-me

I also own an amazing heavy duty Under Armour Base 3.0 quarter zip ($79) which really fights the cold!

Me Susan Nicole_2-3-13

Legs – This super tricky for me because I have LONG legs.  Only long tights fit me.  I’ve tried various brands but always come back to the fact that if I want every part of the tights to be where they need to be, then I have to go with long length.  Athleta is the only place that I buy long tights.  I just purchased a pair of the Polartec Power Stretch tights ($79) in long and am IN LOVE with them.  I wore them in 6 degree weather last week, as a single bottom layer, and didn’t feel cold at all.  They are super soft and cozy without feeling bulky.  In the past, I have used thinner tights like the Athleta Relay Tights ($79-$89) and then added a second layer with the Runabout Pant ($69).   Photos below:   Polartec Power Stretch Tights, Relay Tights & Runabout Pants (all from Athleta cuz they have Talls!). 

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Gloves  – Don’t forget the gloves!  I wear Manzella Sprint gloves.  I have 3 pair and just ordered my 4th pair this week cuz I wipe my nose on them and need to wash them a lot.  I love the fit, and the reflective prints on the palm of the hand for night running, plus they wick sweat fast.  I can wear them from 20 to 40 degrees without anything else on my hands.  Once it dips below 18 or so, then I add another layer of gloves or go to a heavier version.  Some people like mittens, it’s kinda about personal preference but your fingers are super sensitive so pay attention and keep them warm!!

Kankakee River State Pk_ Fence_Nov 2013  image

Don’t be afraid to add hand warmers to your gloves if you have poor circulation or just can’t keep your fingers warm.  I picked up a few at Walgreens this morning, a 2 pack is $1.

Hot Hand Warmers

Headbands & Hats – My gosh, don’t think you’re too cute for a hat or ear/headband or you might get frostbite on your ears.  This is serious business.  As you probably know, the majority of body heat is lost thru the head so COVER IT UP!   I have a couple ear/headbands, one from North Face that’s pretty heavy-duty and one from Athleta that I wear most of the time.  The pink ear/headband from North Face is on the left, the Athleta Polartec Power Stretch ear/headband is on the right.  I’m good with the thin one from Athleta most of the time til it drops down under 18ish degrees, then I go heavier and add a hat!

image    Schubert Woods_me_athleta headband_Dec 2013

When it super cold, I wear both a hat and an ear/headband, and you may even see me add a balaclava to protect my face.  Trust me if you see my face covered,  recognize that it’s cold, windy and “possibly” dangerous! 

balaclava   group_12-10-11_balaclava

Socks – Please cover those ankles!  I like to move to a crew length sock that will protect my skin and cover the gap between my shoe & tights.  Smartwool, or socks with more natural fibers do best to keep you warm.  Here is what Athleta has in Smartwool socks but you can get them just about anywhere.

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The bottom line is that you CAN run outside in the cold but you need to be smart, have good gear and also know that if you just can’t get warm after 2 miles, pack it up and go back home.  Never be afraid to call it quits if you don’t feel safe no matter how crazy everyone else may be.

Did I miss anything?  What’s your go to cold weather gear?  Please share! 

** Run Smart & Safe In The Cold ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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The Art of Customer Service….

As technology changes and advances daily, I sometimes think the internet rules the world.   In this new technological age, it is harder and harder to get good customer service.  Any information we can find on a company is provided thru the internet and there aren’t readily available phone numbers in the “contact us” section.  Most of the time, if I have an issue, I resort to emailing customer service and/or doing live chats with a representative.  The results tend to be mixed and I honestly, do not have high expectations that “issues” will be resolved in a positive manner. 

However, I was more than pleasantly surprised with the customer service I recently received from Under Armour.  For the record, they are not one of my sponsors but I would certainly be open to a proposal!  I contacted Under Armour because I had purchased a heavy-duty 3.0 Base Layer exactly 1 year ago.  Although, I have had the product for quite some time, I only pull this bad boy out when it’s REALLY cold.  I believe I wore it 2x last winter and it’s been sitting and waiting since.  I have only had to pull it out for one run this year.  Here is the photo of Joe, Julie & I in the freezing temps on Jan 2nd.  I believe we also had a little rain & snow, and the wind was atrocious but I was warm! 

However, upon my return home and washing my beautiful 3.0, things went bad.  I’m not really sure what happened as this was the 3rd wash for it and I didn’t have problems before but it came out of the washer like this: 

Absolutely Ruined.

I admit, I was upset.  I decided to contact Under Armour, not because I thought they would do anything but because I wanted them to know.  I sent an email to customer service and attached these two pictures (above).  Within 2 or 3 days, I had a response and an apology with instructions on how to return the merchandise for a refund/exchange.  I opted for an exchange and it has arrived!  I noticed immediately that the product has changed over the last year.   The material is thinner and less plush.  I anticipate it will be just as warm as the other but probably less issues with machine washing and pilling.  In fact, I have noticed all brands of technical, cold weather gear within the last couple years to have become thinner and less bulky.  They still provide the same warmth but we have less to haul around while running, jumping & playing in the cold.  Three layers now, isn’t what three layers was 2 years ago.  As with everything, gear technology is also moving forward at an amazing rate.  As a result, my outer layers are becoming baggy cuz trust me, I’m not losing any weight, so I will need to start buying a size smaller.  Win!

Thank you,  Under Armour!  You have certainly made a lifetime customer out of me.  I had even been considering trying one of your running shoes for my triathlon adventures this year and think I’m going to place that order very soon.  Look for Ms. TooTall “TRI”ing in these UA Charge RCs……

Have you had any positive customer service interactions where you felt they just went above and beyond to help you out? 

Happy Running,                                                                                                               Amanda – TooTallFritz                                                                               amanda@tootallfritz.com