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Ask the Elites: How much clothing should you wear during a race (when it's cold)?

Ask the Elites: How much clothing should you wear during a race (when it's cold)?

Sunday, December 10, 2017 - 6:17pm

"solitary running." by Flickr User clarkmaxwell. License

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Lisa Chilcote of MCRRC: Layer with items you don't care about tossing along the way.

Dionis Gauvin of MCRRC: I usually bring warm clothes that I wear right up until five minutes before the race starts, and then I stand shivering at the start line.  Other techniques are bringing an old T-shirt that you don't care about that you can discard when you get too hot during the race.  Some people wear compression socks and compression sleeves, which allow you to still wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts or tanks without freezing. 

David Magida of Reebok Spartan Race Pro Team: Racing in the cold is tricky. You don’t want to be too cold but it’s easy to overdress. My advice is to opt for being a bit chilly over being a bit warm. If you overdress you can overheat and over sweat. The result is dehydration and reduced performance. Your body has to work too hard to cool itself. I’ve had races that have been freezing cold where I’ve raced in just shorts because I wanted to conserve as much energy as possible. At the same time, make sure you don’t get too cold or your body will waste a lot of energy trying to warm you. My advice is anything above 40 degrees don’t bother wearing a hat and gloves or a long sleeve. Anything below I’d say just use your own discretion.

Kristi Markowicz of Pacers New Balance: I try to wear the least amount of clothing I can get away with.  If it's not too chilly, I will go with the singlet and shorts. I find other clothing to be annoying when I am racing!  But if I have to, I will wear long sleeves and/or gloves (you can always take the gloves off).  You have to wear what you are comfortable in.

Christina Papoulias of MCRRC: Arm sleeves!  I can be a wimp in the cold, so they are my go-to with chilly weather. I'll usually put a throw-away shirt over them until the last minute.

Kaitlin Sheedy of CAR: Cooler temperatures can be deceiving on race morning. Oftentimes it will feel really chilly when you first walk out the door, but once you start warming up or racing you’re easily breaking a sweat. You definitely do not want to be over dressed for a race. I think layers are key, and have pile of “throw-away” shirts, sweatpants, and gloves to choose from in case I need to ditch anything at the starting line on those cooler days.

Ryan Witters of GRC: The first and most important rule to cool (or even cold) weather running is that you can always remove layers, but you can't add what you don't have to begin with.  I prefer to race with minimal cover (i.e. singlet, shorts, and maybe arm sleeves if necessary), but everyone has different weather tolerances.  General rule of thumb: Dress for 20 degrees warmer.  That means if it is 30 degrees out, dress as if it's 50 degrees knowing that after a bout 5-10 minutes of running your body heat will keep you warm.

About the Author

Jamie Corey is a RRCA certified coach and author of Jamie has completed eight marathons, several triathlons and is currently training for her first Ironman. When she isn't trying to find the best bagel in town, she is usually tweeting at @TheRunster.