Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Layer Cake

As Sean William Scott said in the 2005 Dukes Of Hazard remake "F$#k me running". That was a cold one.

I know we all dress in layers, but to my way of thinking, I've categorised jackets, hats, socks and gloves (and combinations thereof) in temperatures, or at least temperature ranges. So lightweight MTB gloves are 0 to 15, Specialised Marigolds are -2C to 10C, (so long as it is raining) unaugmented Sugoi Firewall GTs are 0 to -5C and so-on. It is interesting how human nature works, that sometimes you find it hard to accept that these gloves (socks, hat, whatever) will keep you warm today and regardless of the thermometer you end up reaching into the next drawer down, going out overdressed and coming back with three pairs of gloves and a hat stuffed in a back-pocket or (even worse) your jacket tied around your waist!

Today however, that theory was merely acedemic. It was more a case of wearing nearly everything and accepting that at twenty below, "overdressed" was unlikely to apply. Out came the thick tights, the big jacket. the big windstopper hat, two pairs of gloves (fleece gloves under windproof lobster-mitt shells and even a scarf (well a Buff). Funny, now I think about it, the Mountain Hardware hat and Buff were both bling from DILB (or here) so Thanks Mark, you're a life-saver!

This was for one run on one person. It was adequate!

A word on those CW-X tights. That they are my thickest tights is an accident, I got them because of all that strapping incorporated into them. They were supposed to ameliorate IT and knee issues by supporting muscles and bring them into alignment reducing work-load blah blah. (as a cyclist and runner, I'm a martyr to my knees). These CWX's are a few years old now and while I'm sure in the intervening years tights' technology has increased leaps and bounds (in part due to the integrated strapping and support) I don't feel they offer any more or less support than Sugoi Midzeros. On a more personal note, they are fairly low-cut, making it hard to keep anything tucked in, which can lead to an uncomfortable cold band! Finally, they're blue, which frankly matches with nothing. However, the blueness together with all those vaguely anatomical lines makes them look like Cipolini's infamous muscle suit for time-trials on Pandora.

On days like this I think of a subset of runners you start to see in November, when the temperatures start to dip into low (positive) single digits. The people who are already in the big jacket, hat, gloves, tights and scarves and you think to yourself "what are you going to wear in February?". I'm sure in some instances the answer is "shorts and a singlet" because they'll be on a treadmill. I'm not sure about you but to me treadmill running, like Turbotrainer cycling, is a soulless activity, ersatz running or riding and like ersatz coffee, ultimately unsatisfying, having stripped the soul out of an otherwise enjoyable activity and distilled it into its component parts.

But socks? What socks would one wear for -20C? Funnily enough, the same socks I was wearing in November; Balega Trails.

Counter-intuitive as it may seem, these socks are rocking out just as well at -20C as they were at 0C. They're comfy, with no blisters even over 20 miles/32km and they're warm. They may be black and gray, but when looking pro comes second to finishing a run with the same number if toes you left with, they're the business. As for looks, they are a good length, kinda short (ankle high for looks) but high enough they overlap with tights to form a seal against the wind. Even more counterintuitively, these bomb-proof winter socks aren't from Canada, or Russia or even Scandinavia but from South Africa, a place we don't usually associate with -20C without the windchill!

Perhaps I'm lucky, some people are martyrs to their feet in the same way I'm a martyr to my hands on days like this, but if cold toes aren't slowing you up at -20C, go get a pair from A1. Amandla!