“Winter Is Coming”

“Winter is coming” is a common phrase used among fans of the “Game of Thrones” series. In Iowa, the appropriate statement should be “Winter is here”. The polar vortex has brought with it the cold temperatures and snow that is all too common in the midwest. For runners, it is the time to put away the running shorts and t-shirts and either prepare for a season of treadmill running, or to switch into winter mode.

If you are like me, you like to get outside. As long as the temperature isn’t dangerously cold or there is ice all over, I like to run outside. But in order to do that, you have to dress appropriately to avoid frostbite or at worst hypothermia. So in this blog, I’m detailing what I wear on cold weather runs. Every person is different, and you should adjust accordingly. The rule of thumb is to dress 10 degrees warmer than it actually is, as you will be creating heat with your running.

I dress in layers, especially in the chest area. On the last run I did outside, the temperature was 21 degrees F, with a wind chill of 9 degrees. I felt cool but fine during the 5 mile run. I wore a long sleeved dri-fit shirt and a hooded sweatshirt for the top, a pair of CWX compression tights for the legs, a pair of toe socks that are generally thicker than my normal socks, a pair of mittens that have a liner glove in them, a hood or balaclava, and sunglasses. I was quite warm once I started out, and stayed that way throughout.

As it gets colder, or if the wind gusts increase, I will pull sweat pants over the tights to block the wind from my legs. I will also put on an undershirt, as another layer against the cold. I think my glove/mitten set is fine for now, as well as my hood. If it’s icy, I will put on running cleats that you can find in most running stores. They pull on and off pretty easily, and give you some level of traction.

When the temperature is a mixed bag, where it may be cold to start but warm up later, you will want to dress in some layers that are easily removed. During the last marathon, the temperature was 41 degrees F at the start, but was in the low 60’s when I finished. I had on gloves and a running zip up sweat shirt that could be easily removed. Since the marathon collects, cleans, and donates the clothes that runners “throw away”, I didn’t feel bad about tossing them to the side of the road when I warmed up.

One day on a training run, I didn’t pay attention that the temperatures were going to quickly increase, so off I went all bundled up. After 5 miles the temps rose, and I really started to sweat. With no way to discard of my clothes, I had to gut it out in the personal sauna I made. Lesson learned: pay attention to the weather reports.

Be cautious when running in snow as objects, such as broken concrete, can be well hidden. Also ice can be hidden under the snow and lead to a slip. Know the areas you are running in, and let someone know how long you’ll be gone and your route, just in case you have a problem.


This chart was posted by “Sparkpeople, and it gives a nice example on how to dress for the colder weather. You can run almost outdoors almost all season long, as long as you have the proper gear, are careful, and pay attention to the temperature and weather reports.




Live healthy, be happy.


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