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November 28, 2013

On The Run column: Tips for running in the cold

According to the calendar it’s still fall, but the temperatures lately have felt more like winter.

For those of us who refuse to run on the treadmill unless it’s absolutely necessary, dressing to run in cold weather can be tricky.

For your upper body, experts recommend wearing layers in the cold to keep heat in while allowing sweat to wick away from the body; this can be done by wearing multiple tech shirts and a jacket. But wearing too many layers can cause you to overheat and may feel restrictive, while wearing too few can result in an extremely chilled runner.

Over the years, I’ve tended to go overboard on the layers, usually driven by the initial shock of going from a warm house to the frosty outdoors. And often I’ve regretted the extra layers when I found myself sweating like crazy after the first few minutes of coldness. It’s also no fun on very windy days when strong gusts cut right through you, making that sweat feel like you just jumped into a cold shower.

I especially don’t like wearing running pants, so last winter I began running in shorts while wearing a long-sleeved tech shirt or two and possibly a knit cap and gloves. I found that after that first half-mile or so, I was warmed up and felt fine.

Of course, sometimes it doesn’t matter what you wear.

Sunday, I went for an 8-mile run in blustery 20-degree weather and when the wind was blowing, it was pretty darn chilly. My cutoff temperature for wearing shorts is 20 degrees; any colder than that and I’ll wear pants — although if the temperatures are in the teens or below, it’s probably a better idea to run indoors unless you really, really hate treadmills.

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