Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Too cold to run in shorts?

When is it too cold to run in shorts? For every person it's different, but here's my rough guide...

It's too cold if everyone else is wearing ski gear. Even if you run warm, protect your skin on cold, snowy days with tights.

It's ok to have goose bumps at first. Being cool when you start will help keep you from sweating too much, which can lead to abruptly cooling down. It also will prevent your heart rate from jumping too quickly. Even though it means a cold start, I wear shorts down to about 44 degrees (~4 C).

It's not ok to have goose bumps at the end. If you don't know if you run hot or cold, do a short (1-2 miles) test run on a 45-50 degree day. Try wearing shorts and a long-sleeve top. At the beginning, middle and end of the run (not the "stopped running" end, but the "homestretch, last push!" end), think about how comfortable you are.
  • A little chilly throughout the run? Try adding gloves and/or a warmer hat. 
  • Cold with goose bumps, even at the end? Move up to tights. 
  • Totally Goldilocks (aka Just right!)? You've found a sweet spot and can adjust accordingly as temps rise and fall.
Hope this helps and remember: none of us gets it right every time. I might make fun of you in my head if I see you out there, in sleet or snow, in shorts, but I'll still be glad to see you. Happy running!