Preparing to Run in the Cold.

I am likely the LAST person who should be giving cold-weather-running tips because when it is cold I have one solution – run inside, preferably on the treadmill where you can watch your favourite shows, wear shorts, and not have to deal with the weather. As much as treadmill running has helped me achieve some great runs and maintain my base mileage through the winter thus far, it hasn’t quite prepared me for when I have to run outdoors… like, tomorrow.

You know when you sign up for a race thinking it’ll be awesome and you ask yourself, “What are the chances it’ll be -30 on the day of the race?” and then it comes to the day before the race and the forecast tells you that you may die if you run outside (well, that’s how I interpreted it) and you question your sanity. 

I suppose I should have known what I was getting myself into… the race is called the “Hypothermic Half marathon,” so really… I shouldn’t expect anything less. I have been asking as many people as I can what I should do to prepare myself to run for a few hours in frigid temperatures. My running “tip of the day” yesterday even tried to help me.


I think the key is proper layering. A base layer will be nice and close to your skin so that the cold air can’t actually touch your skin. A mid layer, NOT made of cotton, preferentially with a hood, should keep you warm, but allow you to breath. An outer shell should protect you from the wind and that wicked bite in the air. Thank goodness this article told me to get dressed for the cold… I would have been running naked had it not been for this helpful tip.


I am picking and choosing which tech tops I will wear tomorrow… but I think I’ll end up just wearing all of them 😉 Better to be too warm than too cold!


I have only ever run with one layer of running tights but then again, I have never run in temperature below -20. I will be double-layering on the bottom too with some warm tights and some tech track pants. I like pants that fit close to my legs so they are easier to run in. If need be, you should practice running around your living room in your tights.


My hands are either numb and frozen on a run or they are way too hot and sweaty. There is no in between. I am considering taking some hand warmers to put in-between my layers of gloves and mittens. Yes, layers of gloves. 


I am glad I hadn’t been planning for this race to be a fast one. I am pretty much just using it as a “long run day” for my marathon training. I honestly have no pace goal in mind because I have never run in this kind of temperature and I think basic survival is my main goal for this half marathon. I will try and avoid hypothermia during this Hypothermic Half. 


If you are in Edmonton, come and cheer on the crazy people running a half marathon in -35 degree weather tomorrow morning. Oh, and please pass us hot chocolate and hand-warmers as we run by 😉 It should be an interesting race to say the least!


This morning I did a short workout at the gym and ran 3.0 easy miles (8:16 min/mile pace), 15 minutes of elliptical, and 15 minutes of walking on the treadmill. It was another giant-bowl-of-oatmeal kind of morning. The colder it gets, the warmer my breakfast must be. That, and I kind of have a peanut butter addiction. 


I think I need more mental preparation for running in the cold than physical preparation. I know I can run 13.1 miles, I just don’t know if I can run for two hours in that kind of cold. BUT that’s what makes us Canadian runners, right?

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