Dear Dumb Runner,
Is it possible to freeze my twig and berries while running in shorts during the winter months in Colorado? Will scratchy wool underwear under my shorts prevent any frostbite?—Mark P., Colorado
If you're referring to your penis and scrotum, then yes. It is possible to freeze those things while running in shorts during the winter months in Colorado. Well, they wouldn't actually freeze solid, you know, like Popsicle-brand ice pops. But if it's cold enough and you're out there long enough, you certainly run the risk of frostbite. On your penis and scrotum. Which is bad enough.
Scratchy wool underwear is one way to protect yourself, but in my experience overall insulation is less important than strategic shielding. This is why I personally opt for wind briefs—basically underwear with wind-blocking panels sewn in front. A good pair of wind briefs will serve you well in all but the most brutal conditions. You could try improvising—say, by sliding a sock or plastic bag down the front of your shorts. But that can result in slippage and friction, an annoyance during a short run and potential disaster during a longer one.
I speak from experience. Let's just leave it at that.
Decent wind briefs can be pricey—SmartWool's PhD Wind Boxer Brief will set you back $60—but, really, isn't that a small price to pay when you consider the alternative? i.e., Locking yourself in the bathroom and splashing lukewarm water onto your crotch while your penis throbs with pain and you wonder if you'll ever be able to have children?