Dressed for running success.

Running outside in cold winter weather kinda sucks. There, I said it. 

On Saturday I did a 10-mile long run down near the Chattahoochee River as the temperature had finally climbed into the 40s. It was the first time I’d run outside in over two weeks. Thanks to the rather chilly and windy conditions here in Atlanta, I’d been doing all of my running workouts on the treadmill (or “Dreadmill” as one of my friends says).

While I prefer running outside to plodding along on that never-ending rubber loop, the treadmill is certainly a good option when the alternative is pounding frozen pavement while reminiscing about the joys of having feeling in your extremities.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been rather spoiled running the last 9 years in Los Angeles. While most of the country has the standard four seasons (spring, summer, winter & fall), LA’s weather seems to pretty much consist of one lone 365-day season that I like to call “very nice.”


“The weather is fine for me.”

But here in Atlanta, winter does indeed exist and things can get downright nippy. And like with many things since my relocating, I’m still getting adjusted to the colder weather. And adjusting, at times, blows.

I like to run in shorts, a tech T-shirt, and a running cap. That’s it. And that getup works great for me until the temperature drops below around 52 degrees. Then a long sleeve shirt or lightweight running top enters the equation. And all is well.

Once we drop into the mid-40s, then add a pair of gloves to the mix or maybe some calf sleeves and I’m still good.

Problems for me start once the thermometer dips below 35 degrees because then I haggle with the dilemma of whether not to don the long pants/tights. From there it gets progressively worse as common sense says you should layer up to stay warm. Which would be fine, except that as many of you know, I sweat when I run… a lot.


The new word for the day is “balaclava.”

And when you sweat while wearing layers, you tend to become a soggy clothing burrito. So, yuck.

As a result, I’m experimenting with various new running attire options to hopefully find a modicum of comfort while running outdoors in the winter.

Now I know there are many runners who have no problem running in wintery weather, and some actually enjoy to see how low the temperature can go… kinda like playing climatological limbo. Which is fine; it’s just not my cup of tea (although a cup of tea sounds good right about now).


Yummy spoils!

I bring this all up because next Sunday I’m running the Hot Chocolate 15K Atlanta, a race that asks us to embrace our inner Snow-Miser and promises to reward our wintery jaunt with a cup of warm cocoa (damn well better have some mini-marshmallows in there). I’ll be curious to see what my fellow Atlanta runners are wearing and maybe I’ll get a few tips. The current weather forecast is in the upper 30s with possible rain. Hmm. Should definitely be interesting.

I’ll get back to you next week with my thoughts about the race (my first of the year), what I ended up wearing and how good/bad of a decision that was.

Keep warm… and Run on!

P.S.- Be sure to check back in about 6 months when I bitch about running in really hot summer weather.

So, do you like running in cold weather and what is your go-to piece of gear to keep things toasty?

Posted on January 29, 2018, in General. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. 35 and below I wear a short sleeve with a light long sleeve over it and tights. I also keep my ears covered and wear gloves. Most of the time I am able to ditch one of the latter two if it is sunny. Cold weather throws all sorts of hitches into the mix. I have lived in it all my life and still have to contemplate what I am going to run in every. single. time. 🙂

  2. You know me, man…I’m the mailman of running, out there 365 (or so), in rain, sleet, snow, and volcanoes. I’m kinda like you with dress: short sleeves and shorts to 50-55°, long sleeves and shorts down to 48°, long sleeves and tights to 40°, and then add gloves/fleece earmuffs/windbreaker for 30’s and below. Worst I’ve run in was about -15° windchill a few years ago…I tried adding sweats to my outfit and felt like an entombed sausage.

    • …the cold sucks, but when you toss in a chilly wind it really sucks. My eyes water, my nose runs non-stop. I’d rather be out there in less clothing and brave the cold, otherwise, I too feel like a nasty damp sausage casing.

  3. I’ve become a fair-weather runner. Being from Minnesota, I’ve raced during every month of the year and have had my share of brutal cold. I’m over that now, mostly due to the risk of slipping on ice under the snow (yak tracks can only do so much) but it just wasn’t fun either.

    The worst experience I had was a early season bike race in late April. It was the perfect storm of yuck. I was training for an Ironman triathlon and knew I could get horrible race day conditions so I deliberately tried to get some training done in miserable weather. I figured a fully supported race with bike support and aid stations was an opportunity to safely deal with the misery.

    It was mid 30’s. Average wind speed for the day was 21 mph (worse early in the day when we were riding) with gusts up to 45 mph (and some twits were using disc wheels…he literally got airborne from a crosswind, was blown across the road and into the ditch). The hail and sleet was a nice touch.

    The first 15 Miles actually wasn’t bad. I was doing a 25 mile course and stopped at a rest stop and wasn’t miserable. I thought I might do another loop if I still felt good returning to base camp. Biked another mile and the torrential rain started…with the cold and rain.

    I had waterproof and windproof layers (and a garbage bag too). Didn’t matter. I was hypothermic in about 30 seconds. Longest damn 10 miles of my life. I could not grasp my car keys to open the car door when I got back.

    Cold windy rain is the absolute worst combo.

    The coldest runs though were my Minneapolis Polar Dash Challenge race’s on New Year’s Day. Multiple races on the same morning (usually Half Marathon, 5k and 1500 meter combo). One year, it was a balmy 20F. The other 2 years had -30F wind chill. I sweat a lot in races and I had every layer I could find. I got drenched in the first race and go to the “warming tent” between races (it was so cold that the heaters only got the tents up to +10F). All the sweat in all my layers froze to ice…then they would “crunch” when I would start the next event. Gatorade at aid stations froze to ice cubes. We had to wait for a shuttle bus (unheated school bus) to get us back to the parking area. Being Minnesota, some guy did the 5k each year in a Speedo. Good times…

    No mini marshmallows in the hot chocolate….but it’s still very creamy and decadent. The fondue is amazing! Hot Chocolate was otherwise a decent event, but nothing special. The post event party is kind of fun if the weather cooperates. Have a good race!

    Glad to see you blogging again!

    • …okay I had to put on a sweatshirt just reading your comment. Cold sucks… windy & cold really sucks. And adding rain into the mix is just a trifecta of suck. And like you I sweat a lot so layered clothing tends to chafe or freeze. Or chafe and freeze. I think for me I can handle the “odd” race when it’s colder than you expect (ran the Chicago Marathon in 28 degrees and Atlanta Half in 16 degrees). But when it becomes the norm, that’s just awful.

      As for the choco race, I’ve read about the series for a few years, but it wasn’t run in LA and given the abundance of races there, it didn’t seem like a race worth traveling (cost-wise). I’d save that for more premiere races. Now that I’m in Atlanta, it’s a local race and not much else is being run in the next few weeks (Atlanta Marathon/Half is March 18th), so it makes sense and I’m using it more as a training run. Never run 15K before as a race distance so that should be new. I haven’t run a race since Turkey Day (my Dec. race was snowed out) so I’m looking forward to it.

      Thanks for the comment! And it’s good to be back.

  4. Your pop culture references never cease to impress me. Snow Miser? My absolute favorite Christmas TV show. Even though I live in So Cal, it’s in the High Desert area so it does get down into the 30s. As long as there’s no wind I’m fine. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate gear choice. Enjoy the Hot Chocolate!

    • …”whatever I touch, turns to snow in my clutch.” Kind of scary how much of my melon is dedicated to the storage and care of pop culture/trivia. I may forget important information and the names of people I should know, but silly stuff like the lyrics to the opening of “Land of the Lost” will always be instantly accessible. It was a “routine expedition” after all.

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