Training Tip Tuesday – Dress for Success

Cold Runner

There are a few general tips when it comes to dressing for a run. Some you probably already know. But there is always that time you go out there and realized just a wee bit too late that you over dressed. This is because your mind is doing the thinking for you. You forget how much more your body may know.

The general rule of thumb for dressing in any kind of weather is the 20° rule. You want to dress as though the temperature outside is 20° warmer than the thermometer reads. This is because, on average, your body will heat up that amount during your run. So, if it is 40° outside, dress like it is 60°. You will want to remember to factor in other stuff like sunshine, wind, rain, etc. and adjust accordingly. A cold wind might mean you want to add an extra layer. Or warm sunshine might mean shedding that layer. Wearing black in the sun will help you to absorb some extra heat in the winter. Wearing white will help detract the absorption of the sun in the summer.

Generally speaking, it is better to go out slightly under dressed for most circumstances, unless you have a safe place to ditch a layer along the way. If you aren’t aiming for speed on a particular run, you can always tie a jacket around your waist, but I find this just makes a run more cumbersome. There are other ways to beat the extra layer game without having to shed bulky layers.

Arm Sleeve

Arm Sleeve

Arm Warmers – These are the bomb! You can wear them with tank tops for cooler spring or fall days when you know it will heat up later in your run. Simply roll them down to your wrists or tie them to a hydration belt when you are ready to remove them. Arm warmers are also great in the winter for wearing under a long sleeved top. Typically your core stays the warmest, but your legs and arms need more insulation. The arm warmers will do that for you without adding the extra layer.

Calf Sleeves

Calf Sleeves

Compression Calf Sleeves – The same can be said for these. Wearing them below leggings can give just enough extra insulation without having to double up on the pants.

Headband with Ear Flaps

Headband with Ear Flaps

Headbands with Ear Flaps – I just recently stumbled upon these beauties. They add extra warmth to the ears without having to run in a hat when the temps are in the 30s or 40s. OR, they can be worn under a cap for extra warmth!

Turtle Fur Totally Tubular

Turtle Fur Totally Tubular

Turtle Fur Totally Tubular – I love these neck and head sleeves. You can wear them around your neck like a scarf, or pull them over your mouth and nose. OR, you can wear them like a ski cap with the material over your mouth or under your chin. These are highly versatile and the style can be changed numerous times while you are running.

I’m a cold person. I suffer from Raynaud’s Syndrome which makes running in the Minnesota winter a crapshoot. I’m never sure how I’m going to fare. But I have a few rules about what I wear during runs. Maybe these will help you out in a pinch as a general guideline. Since I am female, I have listed a running bra as a regular piece of equipment. I might also add that I am boobless. Just a 34A. Those of you women blessed with boobs my need to dress a little lighter. Men typically don’t hold heat as well as women do, so you may need to add a layer, especially in winter conditions.

  • Temperature 75° and above: Shorts, sports bra, tank top.
  • Temperature 60° to 75°: Shorts, sports bra, short sleeved or sleeveless tech top.
  • Temperature 50° to 60°: Shorts, sports bra, short sleeved tech top, compression calf sleeves, optional arm warmers.
  • Temperature 40° to 50°: Capri pant, sports bra, long sleeved tech top (or short sleeves with arm warmers), compression calf sleeves, light gloves.
  • Temperature 30° to 40°: Long pant, sports bra, long sleeved tech top (A short sleeved one underneath if there is wind or no sun), compression calf sleeves, ear warmers or cap, gloves.
  • Temperature 20° to 30°: Long pant, sports bra, 2 long sleeved tech tops, compression calf sleeves, ear warmers or cap and balaclava, mittens with hand warmers, heavy weight socks. Optional toe caps (I make these by cutting the end three inches off a pair of old socks and slipping them over my toes.)
  • Temperature 10° to 20°: 2 Long pants, sports bra, 3 long sleeved tech tops, compression calf sleeves, ear warmers or cap and balaclava, mittens with hand warmers, heavy weight socks, toe caps.
  • Temperature below 10°: Same as above but 2 long sleeved tops with a jacket.

Again, this is my rule of thumb. Your’s may vary slightly. But I highly recommend keeping a journal of what you wore and what the weather was on that day. A selfie does a great job of this without having to write it all down. This way, you can glance back at it to determine what might work best for you, especially come race day!

Speaking of races, it is always a great idea to hit a Salvation Army store or similar and pick up some throw away jackets or over sized long sleeved tops. This way, just before the gun, you can strip it off and toss it to the side of the road. Or, give it to a fan and ask them to stick it in their donations at home! Many longer races, especially marathons, will already provide this service, setting up large boxes at water stops just for this purpose.

Other tips: Avoid cotton like the plague. Technical materials will help whisk moisture away from the skin keeping you warmer in winter and cooler in summer. It is better to layer up on this light weight material than it is to toss on a cotton tee shirt under your running clothes, even though you think you are warmer. You will sweat, even when the temperatures are below freezing! Take this from someone who knows.

Dermatone Tin

Dermatone Tin

Also, invest in Dermatone or similar product. Even Vaseline will work in a pinch. Use it on your cheeks and lips to prevent wind burn and chafing. It also acts as a layer of insulation to keep your bare skin a bit shielded from the cold.

Hopefully this will give you a base line on what to wear during which conditions. Dressing for success can make a race or break it. I would typically prefer to be underdressed rather than overdressed for a race. Keeping a heavier coat and extra sweatpants either at bag check or in your car is a good idea. You can walk back to your vehicle and retrieve them as a cool down, and be warm enough for post race activities!

Did you ever overdress or under dress for an event and totally regret it?

5 Responses to Training Tip Tuesday – Dress for Success

  1. Celia says:

    Well written and informative!

  2. Robin says:

    Love your well written info. I have over and under dressed for races… I agree whole hearted with your blog…

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