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With...or Against the Wind?

Like Isaac Newton's 3rd Law of Gravity - with every adage there's one which is an opposite axiom. One that counters the other. For example, "look before you leap" and "he who hesitates is lost." Or "the more, the merrier" and "two’s company; three’s a crowd." Are they both true?

I get out the door every day to exercise - "neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night..." - something I've been doing for over sixty years, the mileage I've covered certainly more than a trip around the world.

There are many days, especially when the winter winds come screaming out of the NW, that I question my sanity. Wonder if people think I am one of those lunatics who exercises outside in spite of the bitterly cold conditions? To them I answer, "There's no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothing."

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Back in the day - in an era when winter athletic clothing was all cotton - every coach's mantra was, "run into the wind the first half of your workout, and with the wind on your way home." It made sense - sweat-drenched clothing late in a run holding moisture against the skin - rapidly lowering body heat. Not good. A major cause of hypothermia.

But it made the first five minutes of winter runs torture.

That's why Bear Grylls always stripped off his wet clothes coming out of icy water, getting moisture away from his skin, using a fire to get his clothing dry. He clearly understood the dangerous effect of water and wind on the human body.

Despite this long held belief, my opinion has pivoted a bit - that maybe it's just as smart to begin with the wind at my back as in my face. Why? High-tech underclothing is the reason - Dri-fit, Climalite, etc. Late in workouts I don't have to worry about the accumulation of moisture against the skin as I used to. This gear continually wicks the sweat away.


With my about-face on a long held winter adage, the first five minutes of sub-zero windchills are now easier to tolerate, the brutal winds not the issue they were when I wore cotton t-shirts. I continue to consider my coach's adage, but it doesn't bother me to go against convention. Start with the wind at my back.

Yet there's one thing about winter running I doubt I will ever change. That whenever I'm exercising in sub-zero windchills, I will still be wearing a sock in my shorts. I need to protect the family jewels from freezing.

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