I’m super excited to introduce you to Mommy Runs It’s first regular contributor: My Dad! We don’t always see eye to eye, but he knows his stuff and is my running hero! I hope you learn something from his tips on running in cold weather. – Sharon
Running in Cold Weather
I am honored that Sharon has asked me to share some of my thoughts on running with her readers. I started running in 1964, so some of my ideas and thoughts may be old fashioned and not consistent with current methods. But they have worked for me and that’s why I’ve stuck with them. Perhaps they’ll work for you as well.
Turkey Trot Time
It’s Thanksgiving, and today Turkey Trot runners throughout the US had the opportunity to race in cold weather. Here in south Florida the wind chill temperature was 37 °F. That seems like a perfect reason to have a discussion about running in cold weather. The information that I’m providing is based on an extensive research and testing program, in which I play both the mad scientist and the test dummy. Keep in mind while reading this article (or any other article about running in cold or hot weather) that the general concepts apply to everyone, but the specific details depend on the author. You will need to adjust them to suit your own tolerance for cold weather.
I recently came across an article on cold weather running published by NYC Running Mama. It is well written and provides a lot of good information on this subject. I’m not going to repeat that information here, but I’ll expand upon it and add my own thoughts.
Running in Cold Weather: What (Not to) Wear
The conventional response about how to dress for running in cold weather is to wear layers. I would modify that to say stagger your layers. For me, my wrists are the first body part to get cold. That’s followed by my fingers, arms, ears, and lastly legs. Two other key points:
1. When deciding how to dress, the layers should be based on the wind chill temperature, not the actual temperature.
2. Dress to feel comfortable (not warm) 10 to 15 minutes into your run.
If you’re comfortable at the start of your run, you will be sweating and possibly even colder later on in the run. There is an exception to this rule. If you are in a race and you will be standing around at the staging or starting line for an extended period of time you should dress a little warmer, but be prepared to shed your extra clothing when the race begins.
When the temperature drops to 45 °F, I’ll add a long sleeve shirt under my t-shirt. Nowadays, many experts will recommend a non-cotton shirt that wicks away the sweat. However, I’m old school and set in my ways, and I usually wear a long-sleeve cotton shirt that I received at one of my winter races.
I’ve read that the human body loses 80% of its heat through the head (for the geeks among us I think it has to do with hair providing more heat transfer surface. Does that mean that balding guys like myself lose less heat?). I usually wear a ski cap, but I don’t pull it down over my ears. At 40 °F I add in mittens and pull the ski cap over my ears. Mittens are better than gloves because the body heat from each finger can help warm the others, unlike gloves where each finger is isolated.
Now, while I say “mittens,” I actually use a pair of sweat socks (less expensive and easier to find). Also consider that when you run in the cold, it’s likely that your nose will be dripping. The sweat socks can double as a handkerchief and afterwards can be tossed in the wash. I have been asked about the use of handwarmers. I haven’t used them, but I see no reason why they wouldn’t work.
I cover my legs when the temperature drops below 30 °F. In my younger days I would wear a pair of women’s tights These days I usually wear a pair of sweat pants. At this temperature, I’d also put on a second pair of socks. Once it gets below 25 °F, I’d add a second top. Below 20 °F I would add a full ski mask. When we lived in an apartment building in Queens, NY. I once came back from a run wearing my ski mask and did not take it off when I got into the elevator. I scared the daylights out of the old women who got on the elevator with me.
Snow, Wind, and Ice
Cold weather running means snow and ice. If you’re running on these types of surfaces you need to be extra careful. Shorter strides with a slower leg speed are a good idea. Avoid running in wet snow or puddles. Frost bite is a real danger in cold weather and you need to make sure that you take the proper precautions.
One more additional tip: The cold weather will dry out your skin. I recommend applying Chapstick or Vaseline (or a similar product) to your lips and cheeks before you go out for your run. I also recommend applying a moisturizing lotion to your hands after your run. These applications can prevent skin damage.
Do you want my dad’s two cents on your running question? Contact him at email@example.com.
Albert Ugelow is the proud father of Mommy Runs It’s owner Sharon Wilhelm. He has degrees in Nuclear and Mechanical Engineering and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Florida and is also certified as a Project Management Professional. He started running as a sophomore in high school (Oct 1964), and never stopped. In high school and college he was a middle of the pack runner. He hit his peak as a runner in the first 10 years after graduating college. Though never achieving a champion performance, he ran some decent times (5K – 16:58, 5 mi – 27:07, 6 mi – 33:00, 10K – 34:58, 13.1 mi – 1:36, 20 mi – 2:20:51, marathon – 3:37:48). Currently he runs primarily to maintain a level of physical fitness. He hopes that when he retires in a few years he will be able to increase his training and return to competitive running. His secret (not so secret any more) ambition is to be a high school track coach; not to produce champion runners, but to instill the love of running in these young people and pass on his experience.
Payal Bansal says
This is amazing!!
Thanks for the share 🙂
Thanks! He’s kind of a rock star. 🙂 He’s written some other really good posts for me too: https://www.mommyrunsit.com/running/my-dads-two-cents/
K (@kwoohare) says
Love that old school photo of you two. great blog!
I somehow missed your comment until just now – so sorry! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. Have you seen my dad’s other posts? He seems to be getting a kick out of the whole blogger thing.
Albert Ugelow says
Photo credits that accompanies this article: Sharon and Dad by Paula Ugelow; Dad running by Brianne Ugelow
Dad, do you know what year that photo was taken? I’m guessing 1978 or 1979?
Albert Ugelow says
The date on the back of the photo is July, 1979
This is great and your dad cracks me up! I hope he gets to at least be a mentor to a high school track team one day!
I was sort of not amused by the tights thing, but probably just because he’s my dad, so ick. 🙂 I’ll be posting his 2nd column soon!
Amy O. says
That is a seriously awesome pic! Thanks for sharing these thoughts–I’ve run for years, but this is my first cold winter running and I’m trying to figure out how to dress for it. The socks for mittens tip is genius!
Ha, thanks. 🙂 My mom was really big into matching outfits. There are some truly horrific photos of my & my little sister.
Amy O. says
Ha ha! So wrong. Of course if I had two little girls I’d probably do the same thing to them. 🙂
I just had to follow up on the sock suggestion–it has changed my life. My fingers are warm and toasty now. Please thank your dad for me!!!
I’ll tell him! The funny thing is that he lives in south Florida now and probably hasn’t run in anything colder than 60 degrees in the last couple of decades. But he’s a New Yorker in his heart. 🙂
Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles says
All of this is awesome advice. I like in MA and running through the winter is TOUGH!! Also, I LOVE that your Dad is blogging on your site, it’s so cool!
Thanks! It was actually my sister’s idea for him to start writing for me. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it! I have to be honest – I’m pretty glad I don’t have to use most of those cold weather tips. I’ll a handful of cold runs this season, but for the most part it stays mild here (but the summers are brutal!).
Bridget Jones says
Now that is information I never knew. Way to go Dad!!!
I didn’t know a lot of it either! I’m excited to hear what else he has to share in the coming weeks. 🙂
Neatly-Packaged (@Neatly_Packaged) says
This is ADORABLE!! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this story 🙂
I’m glad you liked it! He’s got some more good stuff coming…hope you’ll stop by again. 🙂
It’s great that he stays in shape! Your dad pretty awesome!
He can still run circles around me. 🙂
How neat to have your dad as a contributor! While I’m not a runner, I totally get it with the weather. My skin totally dries out! I’m in FL too.
I’m such a wimp in cold weather! Anything below about 60 is cold here. 🙂 I can’t even fathom running when it’s 20 degrees outside!
This is awesome… thanks for sharing (both of you)!
Thanks! It’s crazy that he’s been running my whole life and I didn’t discover my passion for it until I was 37. I never even realized how much he knew. 🙂
GossipMoms (@GossipMoms) says
beautiful pic, but yea dad is doing his thing
Yep…that’s his thing. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Your dad is awesome.
Yeah, he’s pretty rad. 🙂
Yay, Daddy! You’re a blogger now! 🙂 Xoxo
He owes it all to his agent. 🙂