Ask A Marathon Mommy: Brrrr…


To Floridians like myself, anything below 65 degrees is considered chilly weather. So you can imagine my dismay when I woke up yesterday morning for my run, checked the weather, and saw that it was 31 degrees outside! I’ve done some running in chilly temperatures, but this was my first run in truly cold weather. I did the best I could to bundle up, but I definitely need to do a bit of preparation for my next cold run – especially if the weather is going to be similar for next Saturday’s 23 miler.

First, I will need to do better than just bundling up in layers. Running heats the body quickly, and runners who pile on too many layers often come to regret overdressing rather quickly. Perhaps the most important thing to purchase will be a hat, as one may lose up to 40% of body heat from the head. A fleece or wool hat is a great option. Headbands that cover the ears are also a popular option with female runners.

It’s also important to protect the skin from the cold and wind, and to avoid chapping or even frostbite. I always run with Chapstick or lip balm in my pouch or pocket. You can also use Vaseline on your nose and cheeks (or anywhere else on your face) to prevent windburn and chapping.

Even though I will be avoiding a bulky winter coat, it’s still important to dress in layers when running in cold weather. The layer closest to your body should be made from a wicking material, such as Dri-Fit or CoolMax. This will wick the sweat away from your body and will help keep you dry and warm. It’s very important to make sure that you don’t wear cotton for this layer because once it gets wet, you’ll stay wet.

If you are running in extremely cold weather (below 10 degrees), an insulating layer will also be necessary. This layer must also wick moisture away from the skin. However, since it rarely, if ever, gets that cold in this part of the country, this second layer will not be necessary for me. Instead, I will just wear an outer layer that is both wind- and waterproof. It’s also essential to cover your hands when running in cold weather. I will need to purchase gloves or mittens that wick away moisture.

Our legs tend to generate more heat than the upper part of the body, so I won’t need to wear as many layers on my lower body. Tights or running pants should do the trick. In the extreme cold, both of these can be worn together, or waterproof track pants can be worn over tights. As always, never wear cotton socks. I can wear my usual running socks, or I may invest in some nice, warm wool socks.

So it looks like I have a bit of shopping to do before Saturday. In the meantime, think warm thoughts for me and have a happy holiday!

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Sharon is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a background in mental health, substance abuse, and child welfare.

“I tried my hand at being a work at home mom, but in 2009 I decided that being a stay at home mom is what works best for me and my family, at least for now. As my kids like to say, I’m “The Boss” of the family, which includes my husband of 9 years, two daughters (ages 4 and 6), and a giant goldfish named Princess Leia. My girls are beautiful and curious and wild and exhausting, and life is never, ever dull! I love reading, traveling, trying new restaurants, and shopping for bargains. I’m also training to run my first marathon in February 2013.”

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