Cold Weather Running- Tactics and Gear
By: Rory Closz - RRCA certified Level 1 coach and RUN MKG Member
When the temperature in West Michigan starts to plummet, the wind picks up and the rain and snow feel like you’re going through a glacial carwash it can be tempting to say “forget it” to outdoor running and instead hop on the treadmill for all your winter mileage. If you’re still interested in getting some outdoor miles but aren’t quite sure how to bundle up for it, here’s a post for you! Here are the basics that I stick to: merino wool is my go-to fabric for warmth, wind-blocking is always helpful for knees, elbows, fingers and toes. Just for fun, we'll go in the order of the old kindergarten song: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes!
Head. Pop a warm hat or headband to cover your ears from the elements. Personally, I have a couple of different thicknesses I like to choose from: my Arc'teryx Bird Head Toque is good for when I’m doing faster workouts and get a bit of heat pouring out the top of my head, and my Turtlefur Jace Beanie is good for my longer, slower runs (plus it’s got a pom, so it’s super fashion-forward!). Both beanies are made with merino wool, which makes them warm and breathable.
I tend to wear a neck gaiter to help keep my face relatively warm and out of the snow and wind. You can’t go wrong with the original BUFF®. They’ve got plenty of styles, plus merino wool!
Shoulders. (And the torso, really, but that doesn’t go with the song). I wear a base layer t-shirt, then a long-sleeve shirt, then a quarter zip, then a jacket if I feel it’s necessary. I mix-and-match the layers depending on the conditions, but usually the base layer is my Rabbit EZ Tee Short Sleeve because it’s super-soft. My long-sleeve is usually a long-sleeve race shirt. My quarter zip is my Run Muskegon OGIO Endurance Quarter Zip, because I can unzip if I get too warm in the torso. My Patagonia Houdini® Jacket zips up into a little ball, is great for wind blocking, and is mildly waterproof as well!
Knees. I stick to a couple of simple rules when dressing for a run: 40 degrees is shorts weather, 50 degrees is short sleeves weather. But when it does get down below 40, I’ll reach for a pair of leggings: R3 Partial GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Tights are great for when the wind is howling and you don’t want to feel it. (To keep it modest, I wear my Path Projects GRAVES PX over my leggings) These can be a bit pricey, so for a couple of years before I bought into the windstopper I was rocking a pair of TJ Maxx Baselayer Leggings underneath some Adidas track pants. A little heavier, but they did a great job until I was ready to go for the GOREWEAR.
Toes. (And Hands). On my feet I’m a big fan of Darn Tough Merino Wool Hiking Crew Socks. Darn Tough does a great job with sustainability, and they have a lifetime guarantee. I’ve sent in lots of socks over the years and gotten a redemption code for a brand new pair each time! I’ve also worn Smartwool, Bombas and Balegas. Just make sure they’re wool if you want toasty toesies on your run.
I have really finicky hands and fingers, so I wear double layers of gloves. A merino base layer glove I got from TJ Maxx goes on first, then my Sugoi Zap Wind Mitts go on over top. I like the mittens because I’m able to stick some hand warmers in there and move them around as needed to different parts of my hands.
Shoe Choice. There are a lot of opinions when it comes to winter running shoes, and the best way is whatever works best for you. Here are some options that people in my running circle use. Shoe Screws: these are small screws that you literally screw into the bottom of your shoes to provide traction on the ice and slush; many people use an old pair of shoes they don’t care too much about for this. Yaktrax: these clamp onto the outside of your shoes like little bear traps and provide traction against snow and ice; they can mess with your run form a bit until you get used to the difference in the feel. Trail Shoes: my go-to method is to wear my trail running shoes in the winter; they provide a bit more traction than normal road shoes, and I don’t have to mess around with screws or bear traps.
If you’re tired of the treadmill when it gets cold, give winter running a try! We have a ton of people who run outside year-round at Run Muskegon, so there are many different options to try. But, like everything running-related: test it out, then do what works best for you!
Rory’s Winter Running Wardrobe:
Hat: Arc'teryx Bird Head Toque; merino wool Buff
Shirt: Rabbit EZ Tee Short Sleeve; Long Sleeve race shirt
Jacket: Patagonia Houdini® Jacket
Legs: R3 Partial GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Tights; Path Projects GRAVES PX
Socks/Gloves: Darn Tough Merino Wool Hiking Crew Socks; Merino Wool base layer gloves, Sugoi Zap Wind Mitts
Shoes: Saucony Peregrine ISO
Is it a Race or is it a Time Trial?
It is both.
For a Race. USATF rules state that ALL competitors' official time is Gun Time. That is the start of the race via a pistol shot, siren, whistle, bell, dog bark, etc… and the end of the race when crossing the finish line. This does not consider the distance and time back that you are situated within the start pack. If it takes you 2 minutes to get to the Start Line, that 2 minutes is part of your overall (Gun Time) time.
For this to be a race we need to agree that the person at the front of the pack needs the ability to protect his/her position from challenges from behind. Additionally, those behind him/her need the ability to gauge where they are in the race and decide when to mount a challenge and “kick it” into gear to pass the front runner. This gives integrity and fairness to the competition.
Our vision of first place in the race is that of the first competitor crossing the Finish Line and busting the tape (so to speak). Applause is given for that accomplishment!
With this knowledge it is critical that if you are fast, and think you could win the race, you need to be up front on the starting line. Period. Any time behind the line is added to your overall gun time.
For a Time Trial. USATF rules state that Net Time or Chip Time, as we know it, is only available to the competitors for reference. Chip Time is the calculation of the time (using a transponder) of crossing the Start Line to the time of crossing the Finish Line. All competitors using this method of race placement are doing a Time Trial race. For example, The Tour de France has Time Trials on certain days. Each competitor launches from a start gate that records their start time, and eventually their finish time is recorded at the Finish Line. All these times for each competitor are listed fastest to slowest for the rankings for that race. Time Trial. With this type of race it is impossible to know where you are, in order of time, within a pack of runners that are stretched out across a large distance of the race course.
Road Races do Both. To uphold the integrity of the race, The Overall Finishers are scored by their Gun Time. For age group awards the issue is the time (and added distance) it takes a starter to cross the Start Line. So, with Age Group Placement it is acceptable to score them by Net Time or Chip Time. These two timing/scoring methods are blended and considered standard and normal practice for virtually all races everywhere.
Rare but does happen. On rare occasions it is possible that a chip time records as a faster time than an overall winner’s gun time. However, you will not see that person’s gun time faster than the overall winner's gun time. It can happen that a runner, that starts back in the pack, can run a faster pace than an overall winner. However, this runner started back in the pack adding time to their gun time. Therefore, it is critical that, if you are fast, and think you could win the race, you need to be up front on the Starting Line. Remember, USATF rules state that ALL competitors' official time is Gun Time. Chip Time is only available to the competitors for reference. To keep the integrity of the race, to have the first person in each gender crossing the Finish Line, to be the Overall Winner(s), we have the standard of using Gun Time for Overall placement in the race. That first Male and first Female crossing the Finish Line GETS ALL THE APPLAUSE.
There are times when a race can have scoring and placement by Chip time only. The entire race placements are by Chip Time. This would be for a race that has interval starts. Mud races, Obstacle Course races, and recently for races requiring social distancing. Runners start across the Start mat in familial groups every 10 seconds for example. Marathons that let 25 runners go every 10 minutes to keep them spread out along the course. These races do not know the Final results until all participants have finished. Preliminary results can be seen but can change as new runners come in.
The Argument. “My Chip time was faster than the Overall Winners time, I should be the overall winner!” Consider this – A race is a race is a race. The number one rule of a race is that competitors are ranked/listed by the order they cross the Finish Line. All Overall reports are printed in Order of Finish, first to cross the Finish Line to last to cross the Finish Line. This is Gun Time order. It’s a race. There is no “race” where the Overall Winner is the fourth person to cross the Finish Line. That can only happen in a Time Trial race. If you say, “Let’s make our 5K a Time Trial Race”, the spirit of competition is gone. The Overall Winners have no ability to defend their position. Those behind have no ability to challenge the front runner. All the excitement of “the race” is gone. The excitement at the Start Line, when the gun goes off, is gone. You would see fast competitors starting in the back of the pack as they know they do not need to cross the Finish Line first. They might wait to start their time, crossing the Start mat, for 10 minutes after the Gun goes off. The Finish Line loses its excitement. The Final Results are unknown until the last competitor crosses the Finish Line, theoretically that could be the Overall Winner. In my view this is not an enduring format for your 5K “Race”. You would have to rename those races to - 5K Time Trial. I believe these events would lose participation and eventually fail. Time Trial Races should only be for those with interval starts as explained above.
The principals and rules governing a “Race” must be followed and accepted by all. Again, it is critical that, if you are fast and think you could win the race, you need to be up front on the Starting Line. If you do not. you are risking your Finish position in the Race.
Runner’s Edge Race Timing and ALL the other timers in our area and across the country use the Overall Winners by Gun Time and Age Group placement by Chip Time method for scoring races. This keeps the Spirit and Integrity of a Mass Start Road Race alive.
Keep Racing and Have Fun!
Runner’s Edge Race Timing
Coach's Corner - July 2022
Coach’s Corner is a new feature to your Run Muskegon membership! We now have two RRCA Level 1 Certified Coaches, Alana Matyas-Brower and Rory Cloz. Each month they will be sharing coaching advice with members and are always available for questions and help along the way!
Summer is officially here and with it comes the warmer temperatures and dreaded Michigan humidity. Your body needs time to acclimate! Training on a hot day can make conditions feel even more challenging, especially if you start the run dehydrated. Your body must work extra hard in the summer to try and stay cool!
When you start running, your core body temperature increases from your muscles generating heat. To cool down, your body pumps extra blood into your skin and you begin to sweat. Your sweat evaporates, resulting in a natural cooling effect. When the weather is extremely humid though, the air is already saturated with water and your body struggles to evaporate the sweat, losing the natural cooling effect. Your inner core temperature can rise to dangerous levels in as short as 20-30 minutes. A headache, feeling light-headed and muscle cramps are all early signs of heat exhaustion. Know the signs of heat-related illnesses!
As you start training for late summer and fall races, adjust your workout and expectations when battling the heat and humidity. Here are a few more tips to stay safe when running in hot and humid weather!
Happy & safe running this summer!
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