Battling the Elements
When old man winter makes his presence known in a big way, getting outside and doing that run is a little more difficult. Knowing how to battle the elements is vital when the weather turns nasty. Dressing in layers is the key, not heavy, bulky, thick layers, but two to three high tech layers designed to wick away moisture and keep the heat in. The bottom line is you stay warmer and drier throughout your run. One wrong layer and you could be losing valuable heat. Letís address each layer for your torso and give reasons for when and how to wear them.
Layer one. First of all you can be losing as much as 40% of your body heat on a cold, windy run if the layer next to your body is cotton. If the first layer is not a moisture wicking fabric it wonít matter what high tech jacket you wear over it; you wonít stay warm and comfortable for very long. A polyester and lycra fabric is an excellent choice for your first layer. Stay away from cotton.
The middle layer serves as an insulator to trap the heat close to you. It should fit rather loosely over your base layer. This is usually a bit heavier then the first but should still be able to wick away moisture. You really only need this second or middle layer in very cold conditions. This layer can consist of a polyester fabric or even some type of fleece which is warm.
The outer layer can be the most neglected by novice runners. This layer protects you from the elements such as rain, wind or snow. This jacket or vest should be loose fitting and allow perspiration to evaporate. Ventilation is important so the inner layers can breathe. This outer layer should be a nylon shell or some type of water/wind resistant material.
So when do you wear what? The old adage used to be to dress as if the temperatures are 40 degrees warmer; however, that doesnít work. My guide for colder temps is:
45-55 degrees - a long sleeve and shorts
25-40 degrees- one layer on legs and two layers on torso
20 and below- three layers as mentioned above on torso and perhaps two layers on legs.
What about gloves, hats and headbands? Gloves can be the simple $5 running glove or the Thermax kind that can be a little more money. Some prefer mittens over gloves and are warmer on those days under 20 degrees. Headbands keep ears warm in 30-40 degree weather while a knit hat or toboggan should be worn when temps are under 30 degrees. I hope this helps you since this can be a tricky time of year. Donít worry if you feel chilled in the first few blocks of the run, the body will adapt, and if youíve dressed in the proper layers you will be fine.