Skip to content

Cold Weather Race for Hot Weather Runner

Recently I was emailed a question from a Florida runner who has a Colorado half marathon coming up.

His concern was that he has never really ran in temperatures under 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the half marathon will likely be in the range of 20-50 degrees.

What to do?

When I had an athlete from Florida run the New York City Marathon he drastically over-dressed according to what most people would recommend, but the late 2016 NYC event was much cooler than what he was used to. This meant that 50 degrees for him felt much much colder than how comfortable it would have felt for me.

So my initial thought is the athlete is going to have to bundle up because 40 degrees will feel very chilly for a Florida runner even though I would be in shorts!

Next consideration is that the half marathon will have the body generating a great deal of body heat. While the start and early miles may feel very cold the runner will warm up drastically.

So my recommendations and thoughts are:

  1. Tights
    1. I usually switch to tights at 40 degrees, so I think this runner will likely want to be in tights or capris.
    2. Under tights, I usually wear a pair of compression shorts.
  2. I would suggest a buff or headband to cover the head and ears.
  3. On the hands, I would wear a lighter pair of gloves under a pair of mittens or even just a pair of mittens that has a flap to open. This provides some versatility since you can open the mittens or remove them if they get too warm and still have some hand warmth.
  4. The chest will be the most difficult since it will warm up the most once the race gets going. For such a high effort run as a half marathon in those temps I would likely wear a long sleeved shirt under a light jacket. This way you can open the jacket or even remove it if the runner gets too warm.

Pre-race is a different story. If the event is an outdoor start and very chilly the participants are best to really dress heavily so they do not get too terribly cold before the race even starts. Most events will have areas for you to ditch extra clothing if you must. If you have a car or family/friends there to take something from you that you do not want to lose, that’s an option as well.