I’ve always measured my winter running primarily by the temperature and secondarily by the wind chill. Wind chill is a relatively simple calculation, or chart, based on the air temperature and the wind speed. No doubt, it is a highly subjective number for us runners, but a good measurement to compare cold weather runs to cold weather runs, and also a good guide on how to dress, if it is windy. I don’t like to rely too much on this number, or use it as the comparison point when talking to other runners, as it literally changes minute by minute, based on the wind, and also depends on what direction you are running in, or if you are in a place where the wind is shielded, like a park, or a place where the wind is stronger, like on the wind tunnel streets of NYC.
I have noticed two trends:
First, some people are reporting a new number, called the “Real Feel”. Actually, it seems like *most* people are quoting this number, or at least calling the number real feel rather than wind chill. I had never heard of it before the last couple of weeks, so was curious to find out more about it. Well, it is the trademarked new formula used only by AccuWeather to more accurately calculate what we’ve always called wind chill. In theory it is more accurate because it takes additional factors into play. I guess the reason I was caught off-guard is because so many people are talking about it. Yet, weather.com, wunderground.com, weatherbug.com, intellicast.com, and weather.noaa.gov, ALL the places I go for my weather, use the wind chill number. So, why are so many people talking about Real Feel? Where are they all going to get this number? I guess congrats to AccuWeather for getting the term so far into the runners mainstream?
Second, and more troubling to me, is I have seen some people report the wind chill, or real feel, as if it is the actual temperature outside, without even mentioning the air temperature. I understand it is a lot sexier to say I ran with a Real Feel of 5, than to say I ran with a temperature of 20 and a real feel of 5, but as I said above, the wind chill, or real feel, is a highly subjective number, constantly changing, and based on a number of factors, primarily wind speed, which is always changing.
To each his or her own, of course, but for me, I will primarily report on the air temperature for my runs, and only really mention the wind chill if it is a really windy day or some kind of extreme, like today!
Happy winter running folks, and to all of you out there in these extreme cold temps, you are all HARD CORE!