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A deceptively simple challenge!

I often wonder about this, especially when it’s really cold and I have a sneaking suspicion that I might warm up after the first mile. It’s nice to feel your toes on a winter run, but it’s not so nice to overheat and have your sweat frozen to your back. Should I wear a base layer and hat? Or two layers and nix the hat? Do I need gloves? This is especially relevant as we move slowly from freezing winter to mild spring. Is it too cold for shorts? How much do tights help anyway?

Also, I’ve made some observations while out on the road that have further confused me:

  1. The more hardcore you are, the less clothing you wear. Have you noticed this? It’s not just at races where the elites are bouncing off the start line in teensy sport bikinis. It’s also those guys who cruise past you on a day with negative windchill wearing shorts and a t-shirt. What’s with that!! Does cold make you run faster?!
  1. The cuter your outfit, the slower you run. Okay, this is a bit of a mean generalization, but in my local park, there seems to be a direct inverse relationship between how much Lululemon you’re flashing versus your mile pace. You can pick cute, or you can pick speed, but you cannot have both. To me, running is not an attractive sport to begin with: Your mouth is open, your face is bright red, and your stride can be less than textbook. No amount of Lulu can hide the salt rings dried to your face, so you might as well give up and embrace your inner slob.

The answer to some of these dilemmas is the Runner’s World “What to Wear” tool. I’ve read that it was launched on a whimsy, taken down because it seemed silly, and then reinstated due to public outcry. People loved it!

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I love it because it makes planning for a run a breeze. I just type in the weather conditions and how I want to feel, and it does all the thinking for me. Four out of five times it’s right, and at the very least, it provides a good starting point to plan my outfit.

I’ve experimented with the settings a little, and one of the factors that receives the most weight is wind–which makes sense since this can push a chilly run into freezing territory. I think the shoes and sports bra suggestions are a little silly, but I suppose they have to cover all the bases!

Give it a try and see how you do!

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