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Dressing for the Race

How’s your week been? Mine has been really great but it’s been rainy and gross in Charlotte. I am so ready to see the sun again. One or two days gray rainy days are nice but it begins to wear on me a bit after it goes on for multiple days.

That said, I do love to hole up in the yoga studio on rainy days. Thursdays are my favorite mornings of the week because I get to start my day with an ashtanga practice. I used to practice Tuesday and Thursday mornings but I’ve had to give up my Tuesday due to class commitments. Ashtanga is my favorite style of yoga to practice and I promise to write a post all about it in the next couple of weeks. I really enjoy our small community of ashtangis at Y2!

I overslept a bit this morning and was late getting to the studio. I was in desperate need of a Starbucks stop + breakfast after practice. I mixed plain Greek yogurt with pumpkin and topped it with cinnamon, honey, banana, granola, dried cranberries and peanut butter.

I received an email from a reader a couple of weeks ago asking for advice on how to dress for races, from the perspective of what gear to carry and how to take into account temperature. Here’s my approach to deciding what to wear and what to carry.

Consider the distance.

If I’m running a shorter distance race (5 or 10K), I usually don’t worry about carrying any special gear other than my Garmin and iPod. If I’m running a half or full marathon, I am more particular about gear. I carry my own fuel (always fuel with what you trained with on race day) and depending on the water stop situation, I will sometimes carry a water bottle for the first few miles or wear a hydration belt.


Last year I purchased a SpiBelt for the Marine Corps Marathon and it was perfect to hold my gels and phone. I clipped my iPod onto the belt.

How To Dress
The time I am going to be out on the course makes a big impact on what I decide to wear. For shorter races, I dress for the temperature outside. If I’m running a half or full marathon, I make sure to check the hourly forecast to see what temperatures will be throughout the race since the temperature typically rises as the day goes on.

Dress Like It’s 10 Degrees Warmer

One of my favorite tips when deciding what to wear on a run is to dress like it’s at least 10 degrees warmer than the current temperature. Even if you feel a little cool for the first mile or two you will warm up and be dressed perfectly. Runner’s World has a great tool for deciding what to wear. You input the temperature and conditions and they output a suggestion on how to dress.

Shorts or Tights?

Even thought I hate to be cold, I love to run in shorts and avoid tights until it’s pretty much freezing. I wear shorts for races until the temperature drops down to about 40-45 degrees. I usually find that if my upper body is warm (vest, gloves, hat) that my lower body is fine.

Toss It.

There is nothing than I hate more than standing at the starting line and freezing. Anytime I’m running a longer distance race, I wear a toss shirt  and either discard it once I warm up a few miles in or plan to meet friends/family at a certain mile to hand over extra clothes (shirt, gloves, hat). I pin my number under the toss shirt.

Wear something distinguishable.

This is especially important when running big races. If you have friends and family coming to watch you, wear something that will help them pick you out of the crowd. Brightly colored hats and shirts always stand out in a sea of black. Or get creative and make a special shirt!

Bring a jacket.

If it’s even slightly cool outside, I have Brandon bring a jacket for me. Often, he only comes to the finish of my races (especially if they are in town) but if he comes to the start, I wear the jacket until the last possible moment. I have him meet me at the finish with it and immediately put it on. My body gets so cold the minute I stop running and I will literally start shaking even if it’s 60 degrees out.

So those are my tips for dressing for races. I would love to hear how you decide what to wear for a race and what gear to carry.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Kristy@RunTheLongRoad October 13, 2011, 1:30 pm

    Knowing that I get hot easily, I dress like it will be 20 degrees warmer. But I also get cold immediately after so I agree with packing a sweatshirt or a jacket if it’s Fall or Winter.

    As for gear, I start practicing and experimenting with gear during my long runs. So when race day rolls around I know exactly what works (and what doesn’t chafe – ugh!).

  • Kate October 13, 2011, 2:06 pm

    that tool seems pretty useful…i’m a huge dork about being sure i’m dressed to be perfectly comfortable, especially for a long run.

    hope you’re a little less sore today!!

  • Alaina October 13, 2011, 2:19 pm

    Thank you for the tips!!

    Unless it’s lower than 40* out, I will usually wear compression shorts/shorts and layer up on top. My legs definitely warm up quicker than my upper body. And I find that hats are more important to me than gloves are. I like to keep my head warm, but as my body warms up, I end up having to take off my gloves. So toss gloves are good too! 🙂

  • Holly @ Pink Runner October 13, 2011, 4:38 pm

    I’ve been debating what to wear for my 1/2 this weekend. Weather says high of 65 right now so I’m thinking it will be warmer than I originally thought. Probably go with tank and shorts!

  • Shannon [Tropical Eats] October 13, 2011, 7:51 pm

    thanks for the tips and the Runner’s World link!

    every time it’s on the verge of being chilly, i always regret over dressing for runs. Love your 10 degrees rule!

    can’t wait to figure out what in the heck to wear for NYC

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