Austin’s had a very mild winter so far (you may even ask, what winter?) but that doesn’t mean cold weather isn’t around the corner. Here are a few tips to help you negotiate running with a nip in the air.
The biggest mistake people make is overestimating the amount of clothing needed during a winter run. Check the outside temperature and then add 20 degrees. You want your clothing to reflect that higher number (if the temperature outside is 40 degrees F, add 20 and dress as though it’s 60 degrees F). Why? Exertion will warm you up.
Take care of extremities first.
A hat and gloves will work wonders toward keeping you warm. You lose an amazing amount of heat from the top of your head, so pull on that knit cap. Because blood is diverted to the big muscles groups, wear gloves to keep your fingers warm and consider some thin wool socks for your feet. When those tiny bits are toasty, the rest of you will feel fine.
Several layers of thin, technical fabric shirts are going to keep you warmer than one gigantic fleece. Layering also gives you the option to adjust as you go and, sometimes, you may want to put layers back on as weather conditions change during your run. You can even layer your bottoms—some skorts and shorts allow you to pull tights on over them so that, as your legs warm up, you can simply stop and peel off your tights. (Note: You can tie long-sleeved shirts and tights around your waist as a way to carry those removed items.)
Consider the conditions.
A clear, sunny, cold day is going to feel different from a gray, drizzly (or downright rainy), cold day. If there’s moisture in the air, realize that you’re going to feel even cooler and plan for a bit more coverage. While there’s nothing about Austin’s low temperatures that would preclude a run, do think carefully about ice. Ice can be invisible on pavement, especially if you’re running in the early morning darkness. Wait until daylight for warmer temperatures and sunlight to avoid a nasty fall.
Invest in winter gear.
Some smart purchases will go a long way toward keeping you warm. Here’s some essential gear:
- Microfiber hat that covers your ears
- Microfiber gloves
- Sleeveless water-resistant vest or shell
- Lightweight tights (running tights, like sleeping bags, cover certain temperature ranges)
- Arm warmers (put on a short-sleeved shirt as your base, add the arm warmers, then cover with a long-sleeved shirt. The shirt can come off first; you can push the arm warmers down to your wrists; this way, you start out warm and keep an appropriate temperature as you—and the day—warm up)
Get out of wet gear ASAP.
You’ll get the most chilled AFTER you’ve stopped running, so make sure you have dry, warm clothes in the car, including a fresh pair of gloves and perhaps some fleece-lined slippers. Strip out of your sweat soaked clothes and shoes and get into something dry within 20 minutes of your run. An old bathrobe is an excellent wrap for the ride home.
Everyone is different; some are cold weather fans while others prefer a 90-degree day in full sun. Note what clothing makes you feel good and apply that knowledge to your winter runs. If you’re the type who’s always hot, a day in the 40s may mean short sleeves, gloves, shorts, and a hat. If you’re one who feels chilled in the AC at work, that same day may require tights and a long-sleeved shirt to keep you comfortable. Whatever you do, don’t let Austin’s winter weather keep you from enjoying your runs!