Running in the snow? Don't forget these

Hat, gloves, layers...check. But what about sunglasses?

As year-round outdoor athletes we do well at dressing for the weather conditions. We're experts at getting moisture wicking socks, Buffs and tech clothing in the summer. In winter, we're pros at layering...base layer, mid-layer, outerwear and all that. And we're pretty good at year-round use of reflective material and headlamps.

But we often forget about our eyes.

UV Protection

Jyl with UV rated sunglasses. Simple, durable
Cold is not the only enemy we face when training in winter conditions. According to the World Health Organization, snow reflects as much as 85% of ultraviolet radiation. Compared to the measly 15% UV reflection from beach sand, snowy conditions are a formidable foe waging war on our eyes.

Solution: Remember your sunglasses!

Sunglasses should be an integral part of every outdoor athletes gear. They are vital in snowy and windy conditions even if there isn't much sun. Quality sunglasses help protect the eyes from direct trauma (dust/debris) and indirect damage from UV exposure.

The American Academy of Optometry suggest wearing sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection to guard against "strong exposure to snow reflection".  Snow reflection can lead to a condition known as photokeritits, commonly known as snow blindness - a sunburn of the eyes. Symptoms can include blurry vision, swelling, and watery eyes.

The Mayo Clinic states "UV protection matters". They also recommend choosing blue-blocking lenses to combat snow glare.

Jyl with a sporty look 
Another reason to protect your eyes with a quality pair of sunglasses is energy conservation.

Energy Conservation

Sunglasses for energy conservation? Yes.

Squinting against sun glare activates numerous facial muscles. The corrugator muscle allows you to furrow the skin between your eyebrows while the Orbicularis Oculi group participate in squinting.

Along  with many other muscles of the face, when activated, causes our face to tighten up - exactly what you don't want, especially when running!

Tightening of the face can progress to tightening of the shoulders, neck and upper back. Your run form can deteriorate quickly when these areas are not relaxed. Running tight also causes you to use more energy, leading to faster fatigue.

Keeping your eyes protected from UVA/UVB is important to keeping them healthy and keeping you active while maintaining good form.
Tifosi Podium. My pick. 

Pick your pair.

How do you pick sunglasses? Most quality sunglasses on the market meet the UVA/UVB guidelines. Many come with a variety of lens options with differing degrees of scratch and damage protection.

I train using different sunglasses. I'll wear a very durable, shatter resistant pair of glasses when biking. While running I appreciate a more sporty look as I don't need as much durability (I don't tend to fall as much when running compared to biking).  Most quality brands (like the Tifosi Podium pictured above) come with a interchangeable combination of lenses. Most specialty run/bike shops will have only quality sunglasses on hand. 

Your story

If you have a gear-related topic you'd like to share, feel free to email me.

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