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What to Wear When Running in Winter Races

This year I decided to run the Winter Series.  And in Colorado, you never know what kind of weather you're going to get.  Reminds me of this quote from Forrest Gump...


"Life is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get." ~Forrest Gump

Therefore, deciding what to wear on race day has been one of my toughest decisions.  I don't want to be too hot and yet I don't want to be too cold either.  Decisions, decisions!!  


Winter Series Race #2

Leading up to the second race in the series, we had gotten some snow and cold weather.  There was still some snow on the trail and even some ice in a few spots.  It was in the 30's that morning and so I decided to wear a long sleeve shirt under my singlet and my running tights under my shorts.  Oh, I can't forget my fun striped socks that I wore over my tights!  :)

Gladys and I after race #2

Boy, did I make the wrong decision!

By race time, it was in the high 40's and VERY sunny without much wind.  Perfect weather for a winter race.  However, did you notice that I was wearing all black?   With the warmer temps and the bright sun beating down on me, I started regretting my wardrobe decision during the last 1.5 miles of the 4 mile race.  I was really starting to heat up and knew I still had to keep up my pace to finish strong.

I finished as fast as my lungs would allow me, but I think I could have ran even faster if I hadn't OVER dressed.

Lesson learned! 

I realized that 40's and sunny in Colorado usually means shorts and t-shirt weather for short races.  I also decided that if I am ever in doubt about what to wear again, I will simply bring ALL my options with me and quickly change before the race if needed.  


Winter Series Race #3

In the week leading up to race #3, we probably had over 10 inches of snow fall and several days of subzero temps.  CJ and I went to check out the 5-mile course a few days before the race and this is what it looked like...



We both ran about 3-4 minutes per mile slower than our normal pace in all that snow.  The race director told us they probably weren't going to plow the course before the race and so I debated all week about what to wear.

I decided to wear my micro spikes in the race.  I knew the footing would be uneven and I didn't want to take any chances of twisting an ankle or slipping and falling.

By race time, the temps were back in the high 30s and it was sunny.  After my issue with over dressing for the previous race, I decided to dress a little lighter (see the picture below).  

When I started the race, I thought I would regret not wearing my running tights as my legs felt a little cold.  But, about halfway through the race, I knew I made the right decision as I started to heat up.  I felt like I could have run faster, but could only run as fast as the footing would allow me.  There were several inches of snow on the trail and overall the footing was very uneven.  It reminded me of running on the sand at the beach and this made us all work harder during the race.  Several times I could feel my ankles starting to roll, but thankfully I was able to finish without any injuries!!   I could tell I worked different muscles than normal as my ankle stabilizing muscles were sore the next day!




There's just one more race left in the 2014 Winter Series.  It will be interesting to see what the weather will bring for us on race day #4.  With all the snow and cold weather we have gotten this year, it could be another interesting race.  

I'm still learning what to wear in races, especially Colorado winter races.  Sometimes you have to learn the hard way!  If you have any tips or fun winter racing stories, please share!

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Comment by Shelley Hitz on February 10, 2014 at 2:30pm

Thanks Phil!  That's good to know.

Comment by Phil Goulding on February 10, 2014 at 1:44pm

Shelley, in the 4th race of the Winter Series there is almost always wind and even though the day may be warm, the wind can be brutal to the point that I don't wear my contacts for it. I also always have a wind jacket. I expect to take off and put on clothes. The start is in the shade, the end in the sun, but windy. Almost need to have a split personality. Layering is the key.

Comment by Shelley Hitz on February 10, 2014 at 1:05pm

That's so true Tim!  The more I race, the more I realize how much I tend to overdress!!  Hopefully I'll find my sweet spot soon.  :)

Comment by Tim Bergsten on February 10, 2014 at 12:28pm

Good stuff, Shelley. I hate being too hot when I run. It has taken me years to figure out how few layers I really need.

Comment by Shelley Hitz on February 9, 2014 at 9:01pm

I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggles with these decisions, Olivia.  :)   

Comment by Olivia Zebrowski on February 9, 2014 at 8:47pm

I'm still trying to figure it out.  I was so hot in this last one I had to take my long sleeve off.  I was so thankful I had a tank top underneath. 

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