|Reynaud's Syndrome: After running in 40 degrees|
I was born with blue feet. My feet are often extremely cold, even at room temperature. Greg once joked that he didn't need to get a fan for his computer, because I could simply put my feet near the computer when he was using it. I'm also very fortunate that Greg lets me put my ice cold feet on his warm legs, which feels amazing to me, but not so great for him.
While my feet tend to suffer worse than my hands, they are actually completely fine while running. A few months ago, I went to a winery with some friends. It was about 55 degrees outside but because I wasn't moving around, both of my feet turned completely white and it was challenging to walk on them. At the New York City marathon in 2010, my feet turned numb while waiting to race, and they didn't regain feeling until three miles in. But once I'm running, my feet end up being totally fine.
My hands are an entirely different story. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you've probably noticed many pictures in which I'm in a tank top or short sleeves, but I'm wearing gloves or even mittens. You've probably also heard me say that my body gets extra hot when I run, particularly my face, so I'm comfortable racing in a tank if it's 40 degrees, but once the temperature gets above 55, my performance is impacted. I would LOVE to take some of that extra heat and channel it to my hands, but my body's distribution system is way out of wack. In fact, after yesterday's run, my hands were freezing but my face was burning up. I solved both issues by putting my hands on my forehead.
After years of trial and error, I've finally found a solution to running in temperatures from 0-50 degrees. My savior has been Little Hotties hand warmers. When you open them, heat releases and they last for 8 hours. I go through several boxes of those each winter. I rotate having them in front of my fingers or behind them throughout the run. Here is my solution to Reynaud's Syndrome when running in the cold:
- 45-50 degrees: lightweight gloves
- 40-44 degrees: heavy gloves or light convertible mittens with hand warmers in them
- 33-39 degrees: heavy mittens or light convertible mittens with hand warmers in them
- 26-32 degrees: heavy convertible mittens with hand warmers in them
- 20-25 degrees: heavy convertible mittens with light gloves under them, plus a pair of hand warmers
- 5-19 degrees: heavy convertible mittens with light gloves under them, plus two pairs of hand warmers: one pair for the front of my fingers, one pair for the back.
It's important to note that mittens are way more effective than gloves. If it's below 40 then gloves
alone no longer work for me. I recently spent $40 on a pair of Under Armour gloves that advertised
high-tech materials to shelter against extreme cold and wind. They failed miserably (within 5 minutes) when I tried to wear them in 27 degree temperatures. They work for the low 40's particularly if it's raining because they are somewhat waterproof.
|Tank top with mittens + hand warmers|
Even with the system that I've figured out above, there are a few challenges. First, my fingers sometimes still turn white and numb if the run is longer than 45 minutes. And even if they don't turn white, I lose dexterity throughout the run. Afterwards, I often cannot use my hands until I run them under warm water for 3-4 minutes. Running my hands under warm water is the fastest way to restore feeling and dexterity.
Another problem is carrying water during long runs. I refuse to wear a water belt, and my preference is to carry my water. When it dips below 40, the water becomes cold (even though I start the run with very hot water from the faucet) and I can't hold it. I've tried different solutions for this like insulated bottles, but those aren't as comfortable to carry, especially if I'm already wearing gloves. My solution to this is to park my car along my long run route and stop at a few times for water.
When I ran the B & A Trail Marathon two years ago, it was only 25 degrees so I was unable to hold a water bottle. At the time, I was using Honey Stinger gels, and I needed to be able to drink water when it was time to take my gels, instead of waiting for the water stations. Thankfully, Greg was able to
|Blue and white fingers after a long run|
I've noticed that my Reynaud's Syndrome has worsened with age. My fingers turn white from driving if the steering wheel is cold. My toes turn white simply from hanging around the house and doing nothing. I've looked into the medication, but the possible side effects sound worse to me than just dealing with it. It's a circulation issue, so I wonder if this is related to how easily I over heat, even if it's only 60 degrees. The condition isn't serious, it's basically just an annoyance that I've learned to live with.
I can relate! In NYC, I was impacted by Reynaud's like mad. Finding solutions for wet and cold weather was difficult and it was maddening. Moved to Hawaii a year ago and well, it hasn't been a problem (don't hate me, : ) ) . Do you have altitude sensitivity too? I've noticed some edema on high elevation hikes and some discomfort during long flights - I move around a lot to alleviate pain. Take care.ReplyDelete
Wow- Hawaii sounds lovely! I do have altitude sensitivity, but I am not sure if it's any more than the average person would have. My feet swell on long plane rides for sure.Delete
Wow! I had no idea.ReplyDelete
By the way, the water belt thing isn't that horrible. Just saying. You get used to it.
I know, I know! I'm just stuck in my ways when it comes to carrying the water in my hands. :-)Delete
Good post, Elizabeth, good analysis. I have Reynauds as well. Gets me more when I drive in the winter than when running, interestingly. I've developed a very similar temperature chart as yours for my hands. The convertible mittens are nice ( I have a pair by Craft which are marvelous) ...then full blown snowboarding mittens when it gets below 30. Using regular gloves inside the mittens. Then, yes, the hand warmers are life savers. I went through two sets of hand warmers in the HUFF 50K I ran 4 weeks ago.ReplyDelete
Nice resource here, thanks!!
Sounds like you have it all figured out too! But sorry you have to deal with this annoyance.Delete
That's annoying, but I can see you've found some solutions. In the last few years, I've noticed my fingers and toes become numb when it's slightly cool so I like using hand warmers, too.ReplyDelete
Yeah, hand warmers are a lifesaver!Delete
Do your fingers and toes go numb too? That happens to me as well.ReplyDelete
I buy those throwaway $1 gloves too and I have them everywhere! You never know when you are going to need them.
Yes, they go completely numb. Good call on always having lots of gloves around! I need to be better about having gloves in my car so I don't have to touch the cold steering wheel.Delete
I have Reynaud's affects hands like your pics show. In my case tends not to develope so much when running, but as soon as stop and blood pressure drops. Seems to be accentuated or connection with wet or moist fingers confined in gloves for prolonged duration.ReplyDelete
This is crazy! I've never seen anything like it. So sorry you have to deal with that!ReplyDelete
I have this as well. I freaked out when it first happened because I had never heard of it before. It happens to me after I get done running. I think it's because my sweat cools me down really fast after I stop. I try to get in a hot shower right away so it doesn't happen, but I'm not always quick enough. I always wonder if there's something we can do to improve our circulation.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing, by the way. It stinks, but I'm glad I'm not alone in this.Delete
Yeah, it's annoying but I'm just thankful that it's not all that serious! Sorry you deal with it too.Delete