Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter Running in North Florida Part 1: Deciding What to Wear

In North Florida, we are much more likely to be "forced" onto the treadmill by a hurricane than we are by cold weather. It's rarely cold enough her to stay indoors for that reason alone, and if it's below freezing and you do, all of the northerners running in the snow will laugh at you. So, winter running in Florida does not mean running on the treadmill, instead it means knowing how to dress to brave the cold (to us) outdoors.

What I wore Saturday



Most information out there will tell you to dress as if it were 20 degrees warmer than it actually is. This sometimes works in Florida, but most of the time I'm pretty sure that rule of thumb comes from the same people who tell you not to run outside if it's over 90°F. That's a joke to us in Florida. I also just read something that said to run indoors if the relative humidity is over 40%, when is the humidity NOT over 40%? Humidity is a major factor in how the temperature feels to your body and while the humidity here is generally lower in winter, our weather is also the most unpredictable this time of year. For example, this weekend my long run was mostly in the 30s, today my run was in the upper 60s and right now it's 74°.

What I wore today is very different from Saturday
Something that has really helped me in decided how to dress for a run, is having my own "weather station." This way I know what the temperature is actually like in my neighborhood, not just at the nearest data gathering spot that my app or the weather channel uses. Now that I know the actual temperature, I consider what time of day it is and how long I will be out. If I start a long run (3 hours) at 6am, the sun hasn't come up yet, so while it may be 40° when I leave the house, it could rise to 55° or 60° before I get back. I want to be comfortable for the longest amount of time possible, so I'll dress for a temperature somewhere in the middle. Sure, I'll be cold when I start out but hopefully I won't be too hot when I finish. The opposite is true too, if I'm running after sunset, I know it's going to get colder as I run. If it's a short run or hard run, I'll still dress for the warmer temperature, but if I'm running easy and will be out there for more than 30 minutes, I may dress for weather a little cooler than what it is when I leave.

Now for what to actually wear. I think this is a personal decision based on what is comfortable for each individual. It will take some trial and error, but then you can establish some rules for yourself. One of my rules is that I wear shorts for any temperature over 55°. Under that and I wear capris or tights (actually it has to be under 45° without the chance of getting warmer for me to wear full tights). I don't have any set rules for long sleeves yet, I'm still working on that one. Most of the time though, unless it's full tight weather, arm warmers are a better option than long sleeves. Arm warmers are even a good choice to wear under long sleeves. Which brings me to my next point.

These cheap Asics arm warmers work great


Layers are your friends! Wear things that you can take off as you warm up but make sure you know what you're going to do with them when you take them off. Some jackets are just not going to put up with being tied around your waist. They will either be super annoying or just not stay tied, so test that out. Wear gloves if your hands are cold but have a place to stash them when you warm up (it has to be in the 30s or lower for me to keep my gloves on the whole time). I often put my gloves in the zip compartment of my handheld water bottle, I've also tucked them into the waistband of my pants before. If I'm in iffy temperature teritory, say upper 40s to 50s, I tend to opt for arm warmers over long sleeves. That way when I warm up, I can easily take them off and just be in my tank or short sleeve top. Again, think of where you're going to put them when you take them off.


Next time, I'll share what running clothes I think you should own for winter running in north Florida.

How are you dressing to run this time of year?

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