I have clinically cold hands. This is a real thing.
Image: Matt Peoples on Flickr
Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with something called Raynaud’s disease — a not-very-uncommon circulatory disease that generally affects the fingers and toes. Raynaud’s attacks are brought on by cold temperatures and by stress. During an attack, small arteries go into vaspospasm, inhibiting blood circulation, and causing fingers, toes, and sometimes other small bits of you to turn really spooky colors and, in extreme cases, develop sores and gangrene.
Here’s a look at what my hands looked like just before the Smuttynose Half, when I took off my gloves for about 5 minutes to use the bathroom. The bathroom was inside a heated building, by the way…
A lot of people (especially women) are affected by Raynaud’s symptoms. The primary form of Raynaud’s is generally more of a nuisance than it is a serious condition, but sometimes the disease presents secondary to more severe health conditions. An attack is very uncomfortable and can sometimes be very painful; for me, this means that I frequently experience limited dexterity in my hands. My feet are also affected, and so are my lips (which turn a freakish shade of bluish purple and, no, I’m not kidding) When I’m running, though, my fingers are the real troublemakers and, to combat this, I have been wearing gloves somewhat regularly since August.
In early spring, when I first started experiencing these symptoms, they came about very occasionally, but they’ve recently been more frequent and much more severe — which is not good news, since it’s only October! In short, I’m a little anxious about how well I will fare New England winter running this year. My plan is to be prepared.
Despite this problem, cold-weather running is my favorite kind of running, and I’d take it any day to running in the white-hot heat and slippery humidity of mid-July. There is something very quiet and very private about cold-weather running, and you just can’t find that while huffing and puffing your way down the trail like a chubby kid on summer vacation, chasing after the ice cream truck. There are certain things you have to prepare for before a hot-weather run, and just as many things you must keep in mind for a cold one. Beyond how you’ll dress, though (and how you’ll keep your fingers from turning blue), you also have to think of how you’ll fuel and hydrate, how your breathing will be affected, and how you’ll stay safe (and visible) when the days get shorter and the sun starts going down before 4pm. So I thought that now would be the perfect time to share some information and links about cold weather running. Stay warm!
- How Can I Keep My Hands Warm During Winter Runs? (Link here.)
- What to Wear on Cold Runs. (Link here.)
- 5 Cold Weather Running Tips. (Link here.)
- How Cold Weather Impacts Your Running. (Link here.)
- 7 Safety Tips for Running in the Dark. (Link here.)
- Running in the Cold — Running Tips for Everyone. (Link here.)
- 5 Reasons Running in the Cold is Good for You. (Link here.)
- The Best Gear for Running After Dark. (Link here.)
- Ice The Competition: How to Race Well When the Temps Plummet. (Link here.)
- How To Keep Fuel From Freezing. (Link here.)