Remember when I was complaining about the rain and the record-breaking (high) temperatures a couple weeks ago? Well, winter has finally arrived and it’s making up for lost time. For the past few days we’ve had temps in the 20s and CRAZY wind, resulting in wind chills either side of 0. Here’s the thing: I love cold weather. Here’s the other thing: my body does not. I have asthma, Raynaud’s Disease, and very sensitive skin. I won’t whine or go into any gory details, but the fact is that all this makes being outside in this weather challenging. Cold, dry air is one of my (several) asthma triggers; my face is very susceptible to windburn; the circulation in my hands and feet can get compromised enough to be scary.Here’s how I handle the bitter cold so I can still play outside. For today’s 45-minute run I wore/used…
Accessories: Buff (to cover my neck and face/warm the air for breathing), a thick, warm hat, half Buff (under my hat, around my ears because I haven’t found a hat that truly protects them), flip-top convertible glove-mittens. Confession: my Buff is made of merino wool. My glove-mittens are alpaca. Sometimes I wear wool socks. I realize this is not vegan but sometimes I have to compromise for the sake of health and safety.
Oh, and a healthy dose of pure shea butter on my face to protect it from the wind when I have to pull my buff off my face because I feel like I’m going to hyperventilate/suffocate. Note: pure shea smells a little funky. Today I finally remembered to add a drop of essential oil to combat. Mmm… grapefruit…
(notice I said I mixed some essential oil with my shea butter. this is key information. please do not ever put undiluted essential oils on your skin! they are very potent and can burn skin… especially citrus oils.)
Oh, and I ALWAYS use my albuterol inhaler before running. This is the only pharmaceutical product I use on a regular basis. Again, health and safety sometimes trump ethical preferences.
I have learned over the past couple of years that keeping my core warm is very important in preventing Raynaud’s “attacks,” as is keeping my wrists warm — it’s all about keeping the blood that’s flowing to the extremities warm. Not only are attacks common in this single-digit weather, but in anything below about 60 degrees. When I worked in a grocery store I had to wear a cardigan and wrist warmers almost every day — even in the middle of summer. I wasn’t necessarily cold but my hands and feet often ended up being so.
Today’s experience? Fairly typical: within five minutes I’d pulled my Buff off my face; within ten minutes I’d put my hand warmers in my pocket and flipped back the tops of my mittens; within fifteen minutes I’d removed the mittens altogether. My head got pretty sweaty though my ears were still cold most of the time because this wind penetrates everything. The rest of my body was pretty comfortable. Fifteen or twenty minutes after the run my hands got very cold, but this happens in almost all weather conditions — even when it’s warm out. Breathing was a bit painful, but I knew that would be the case. And my face stayed soft and smooth and happy.
This is what works for me. Your methods/results may vary. The links included here lead to the products I like the best — I am not affiliated with any company, nor do I receive any kind of compensation from anyone.
Stay tuned for a similar entry involving hiking clothing. This is my first winter hiking on a fairly regular basis so I’m still working on my system but I do already have a few items I know I love.