Cold Weather Racing

How to Race in the Cold

Don’t let Mother Nature ruin your attempts to burn off some of your winter blues.  We all know that it’s tough to get running done in the winter.  It’s so darn cold out!  Who wants to be outside, anyway?!

Good news, though.  There are (a few) brave souls who don’t mind the road racing scene in the winter, and because of that, race directors put on road races!  

Cold Weather Racing
Cold Weather Racing

And while not a lot of runners have what it takes to brave the elements and test their fitness during these cold months, there are a certain few who do.  And I’m so lucky to be the person who coaches them.

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Not sure what to do to prepare for a cold race?  Let’s break it down so that you can stay warm, race fast, and get back inside!

Stay warm doing using these strategies:

  1. Wearing layers – lots of thin layers will trap the heat and keep your core temperature high.
  2. Keep moving – there’s no better way to stay warm than by moving. Whether it’s running or drills prior to a race, the more you move, the warmer you’ll be.
  3. Put on dry clothes – dry clothes is the surest way to keep warm in the cold.
  4. Have a long warm-up – start slow and build up your pace until you’re moving at a good clip.  As the graph below shows, the colder the temperature outside, the longer your warm-up should be.

Dan raced the Marlton Lakes (no results available) 5k this weekend in our NJ weather – it was 9 degrees at the start of the race.  Here’s his recap about his training and this race in particular:

“I think it was a nice test just to check my fitness.  It was good to see that my time was relatively consistent compared to racing a flat course in much more desirable weather three months ago.  It also was great to run it with Michelle (another former TrainwithMarc athlete), as we are about the same fitness level 5k wise. dan racing

We were able to meet, warmup, race, and cool down together helped keep the effort honest.  I have been running solo for almost a year now and this has gotten me interested in actually doing group runs.  It went by much quicker and the effort seemed easier, especially with her taking the pace.   As far as the thing I could have done differently, probably should have listened to you and gone out a bit slower in the first mile.

I always like to put things in perspective, right now I am not even thinking about the specific race but the fact that a year ago I was in about a month into a “walk/run” program, 25lbs heavier than I am now and wondering if I would even be able to run for 30 min non-stop ever again. Now, distances don’t scare me, my paces are slowly but surely coming along, and I am down for running in single digit weather.  This one kind of spring boarded me into being ready for spring.  I ran it as if I had nothing to lose if it went bad and could feel good if I was on target. So yea, it was a good mental and physical test.”

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Need more stories on training and racing in the cold?  Have at it!

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