Ask a Runner! (Cold Weather Edition)

L-l-l-lobster dawwwwg!

WEATHER: Grey and damp and nasty.

MILES: 0.  Because I just don’t care.

MILES THIS WEEK: OMG sooooo apathetic right now.

WHERE TO: This here chair.

MOOD: Hrmph.


Mother nature splorted DC with a giant dumping of slushy poop on Wednesday.  That slushy poop hardened into a thick crust of slippery-yet-grainy yuck shortly thereafter.  All this led up to yesterday morning’s run, during which I was forced to run on the DC streets and get honked at repeatedly by cars, all of which were gunning for me even more than usual, because heaven forbid I run in the parking lane, which was clearly made for driving 75 mph and not parking.  Der.  Anyway, you see, every sidewalk was covered in the Hellcrust, as salt and shovels have yet to be introduced to this crude society.  I should introduce these wondrous tools to the DC people.  I’ll make millions.

But first, it’s time for your favorite column:

ASK A RUNNER! (Cold weather edition)

Q: How do I run with wet, slushy feet? Or should I avoid running on slushy days altogether? — Lance B., New York, NY

A: I’m inclined to tell you to tough it out, but then again, you don’t want to freeze off your toes, because then how could you paint them fun, exciting colors or figure out ten-letter phrases to write out across them in Wite-Out? (“HOT THIGHS!”, “EAT MUFFINS,” “CAT POO FACE”)

A good way to know if you’ve taken it too far is to remember a simple mnemonic device.  To wit:

If you have dry, happy toes,

Go ahead and run on those!

If they’re wet, black, and gross,

F**k it.  Let’s go eat enchiladas.


Q: What should I wear when it’s cold? — Christopher L., Washington, DC

A: You know, every time winter rolls around, I find that I have forgotten that winter ever existed before, and as a result I forget what are the “reasonably comfortable” temperatures and what are the “I want to DIE temperatures.” As a result, I have written up a handy-dandy rubric to help me dress myself.  I also have one to help me dress for work every morning (“Mesh shirts < Button-down shirts”), but that’s another story.

40-50 degrees: Long-sleeved t-shirt over short-sleeved base spandex layer, shorts.

3o-40 degrees: 2 shirts, tights

20-30 degrees*: tights, knee-socks, mittens, headwarmer, iPod that will (due to the cold) freeze up and die right in the middle of “Baby I Like It,” leaving you in an unfulfilled, supertense state that can only be broken with a 2-hour Enrique-gasm when you get home.

*Exactly 22.4 degrees: Flowered muumuu and Burger King crown.  NO UNDIES.

10-20 degrees: Every piece of running gear you have–tights, shirts, sports bras, hats, condoms, gloves, socks, nail polish–layered on to such a constrictive, immobilizing degree that you must spring, straight-limbed, down the streets, almost hoping you get hit because the ER is probably warm and you’ll need someone to cut you out of those 4 layers of tights anyway.

Below 10 degrees: Straitjacket and drool-catching bib.


Q: How do I motivate myself to run in the cold? — Ashley F., Muncie, IN

A: There are a variety of methods from which to choose. Which one will work best depends on why you run.  If you run for weight maintenance, perhaps tape a note to your alarm clock to gently remind you, in case you forget as you reach to bat at the snooze button, “YOU PUT YOUR FACE IN THE ENCHILADAS LAST NIGHT.” Holyshityoushouldgorunitoff!

If you run for stress-relief, get one of those homicidal-urge-inducing alarm clocks with the wheels and the loud noises and whatnot that jump off of your bedside table and roll around the floor until you catch them and shut them off.  Because once you’ve wrestled your alarm clock into submission, the only thing that is going to get you to come down is a 12-mile anger-sprint (and also a NyQuil cocktail afterward).

Or if you’re like me, and you run just for the feel of the outdoors on your skin, the wind in your hair, the breath of nature gently caressing your body, you can use the shame tactic.  I personally imagine the conversations I would have with Mom/Dad/anyone back home.

ME: I didn’t run today.  It’s cold.


ME: 17 degrees.

IOWA: …….uh-huh.  That must suck.

ME: But it snowed a lot.

IOWA: Ohhh.  So like a foot of snow.

ME: No.  5 inches.

IOWA: …how sad.

ME: …5 inches of slush, not snow.

IOWA: Hold on, I’ll be right back.  The mule has frozen stiff on his wheel.  We’re about to lose power.

Awwwww.  Poor Mom and Dad.  Go running.


Q: Can I bring my dog out running in the snow with me? — Liana, Bismarck, ND

A: Plenty of dogs can withstand the cold just fine; better than us humans, in fact.  Consult a trusted veterinarian before engaging your pet in any strenuous activity, of course.


Q: Follow-up question: can I also dress him up in a lobster costume?  Here is a picture:

And also, as I run, can I sing a little rap song I made up about him?  It goes:

L-l-l-lobster dog gonna BLOW YOUR MIND!

L-l-l-lobster dog gonna BITE YOUR FACE!

L-l-l-lobster dog gonna EAT YOUR MITTENS!

Lobster DOG, lobster DOG, lobster DAWWWWG!

— still Liana from Bismarck

A: That is permissible.


Do you have a running question?  C’mere and let me hold you.  We’ll work it out, baby.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Talley on January 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    DJ, you are TOO good to me. Lobster dog just made me happy all over again


  2. This is a hoot. Way to go!


  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Danielle Kurtzleben, DJ. DJ said: Ask a Runner! (Cold Weather Edition): […]


  4. Posted by LT on January 31, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    LOBSTER DOG!!!!!!!! That song made me so pumped I’m going to punch you in the FACE with my FACE!!


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