Cold Weather Running

Well brrrr…it’s finally a little cold down here in the South. (Anything below 60 degrees constitutes sweaters, scarves, and boots down here – ha!). With the weather finally cooling down it’s time to break out the cold weather running gear. That usually means capri tights, arm warmers, and maybe light gloves and a hat for the majority of winter. We do get some colder weather, but it’s very short lived. When the weather gets really cold here, it’s hard to know what to wear when going outside for a run. I’ve referred to this great infographic from Spark People for a while now. And this month’s Women’s Running Magazine has a really great two page spread on the same thing.

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Now being a Southerner, I know the effects that warm, humid weather has on your pace but I never even thought about how cold can detrimentally affect pace because, well, we just don’t get that cold. Cold weather for us means, “YAY! GREAT RACE DAY FINALLY!”

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I thought it was really interesting that the closer you approach freezing and sub-freezing temperatures your pace suffers. Luckily I don’t have to deal with that much, but some of you poor folks do.

Now, I can’t speak to it too much, but here’s a few things I’ve learned about cold weather running in my experience:

  • Plan in layers. Wear layers that are easy to take off in case you start getting warm on the run. I personally like arm warmers and an insulating vest with pockets so I have a place to stash the arm warmers if I want to pull them off.
  • If my fingers and ears are cold, I’m miserable. I hate, HATE having cold fingers and ears. I stock up on cheap cotton gloves at the dollar store and just throw them to the side on race day if I get too warm.
  • When you check the weather, check the “feels like” temp as well. Just because it says 50 degrees doesn’t necessarily mean 50 degrees. If there are 20 mph winds it can lower the feels like temp 10+ degrees.
  • If you’re racing (especially longer races), check what the race weather will be like in the middle and at the end of the race. Dress for that weather. You can always insulate before the start in trash bags or some cheap, throw-away clothes. It’s no fun to be over-heated toward the end of your race.
  • Year-end clearance racks and thrift stores are great places to stock up on throw-away layers for races. I’ve scored sweatshirts for a couple of dollars at the end of the year. I usually grab a couple and put them up for the next year. Goodwill or your local thrift store are a great place to check out for these items too.
  • Chapstick, chapstick, chapstick. My lips ALWAYS get wind chapped when I start winter running.
  • Your legs may not be the only things running – your nose will likely start flowing like a faucet. You’re not crazy. It’s a real thing and it’s called exercise-induced rhinitis. A small hankie or couple of tissues in your stash help. Or, a good-ole well-executed snot rocket is a runner’s right of passage.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You may not feel like you need it as much, but you’re still sweating and your body needs the fluids. Make a conscious effort to drink before, during, and after the run.

Good luck braving the scary cold this year!! (heee…sorry Heather…couldn’t resist)

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