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I've been a fair-weather runner for the past 10 years, never really pushing myself too much. For the past year, I've been quite a bit more committed to running and I've invested in decent running shoes and running gear for the summer (I live in Texas). This past fall, we began experiencing quite cold weather--in the past, I would simply stay in and give up quite easily during inclement weather; but now I feel more dedicated and wish to not let the weather dictate when I run. We don't see too much rain or snow where I live, but we have been experiencing daily temperatures in the 25-35 F range in the morning hours (my time to run). I have no idea how to dress for cold weather and so far I've been using sweat pants (you know, from college days); needless to say, my regular run activities have been disappointing because I still feel cold (chilled to the bone), especially when I begin to sweat and get clothes wet.
I've been reading about thermal tights and layering but I'm a bit uneasy with the tight-fitting clothes; and to be honest, I'm not even sure that I understand how to wear the attire correctly. I've read blogs about people going commando to others wearing some form of underwear--I'm confused about the products out there: I've tried the thermal underwear under my sweat pants, but honestly, I was not very comfortable (although I did stay warm). I've been exploring more and more the thermal tights or pants and matching tops--again I'm confused by the products out there--most appear like outerwear yet they are labeled as "base-layer"; others are thicker and labeld outer layer; some are labeled as compression where others are not. So in addition to the reservation of wearing skin-tight clothing during my run, now I worry about whether I'm using the clothing correctly and wonder how many people will see me run and laugh because I'm in "underwear" worn as outerwear--imagine the emperor's new robe tale: walking around naked and believing that his garment was visible only to those of certain level of intelligence even though he himself could not see the robe.
I hope that I receive useful advice from more experienced runners--especilly those from northern latitudes--
As a person who loves to run in cold weather ( between 40f and 10f) the is no formula on what works for everyone, so you will get 20 different answers from 20 different people. I can only go by what worked for me.
I would start wearing the thin running tights, long sleeve wicking shirt, wind breaker, and gloves when it got below 30 degrees. Then around 20 or less I would which to cold weather running gear, this means its a thicker material and made for running in cold weather, I also would wear a hat with face covering because my face would freeze if not covered.
Never looked to see if there were outer or underwear....... Nor do I care at all it all looks the same to me......
It was something I had to get use to wearing alittle bit the tight running clothes but at that temp you want it tight so your body can warm up the material and use it as a extra layer of skin.
At these temps I never had to worry about sweating all that much just the freezing of the moisture coming out of my nose and mouth.
With that said I always wore a pair of brief underwear under my tights just never wanted to go commando.
As for being cold I would stretch in house before going right outside to run, for me the chill went away very quickly, within the first minute or so...
Like I said it not as easy and cut and dry as your hoping because everyone is different in what the need, I very used compression clothes so I can only guess the might work alittle.
I wouldn't be so worried about what others thing about how your dressed there going to be impressed that you out there doing what you love and not paying attention on what your wearing
It's not only about finishing, its about finishing healthy!
There is a lot of info out there. As you found out cotton is to be avoided, at least as the layer next to your skin. Also, you should feel a little chilly for maybe the first mile. If not, you're overdressed.
There is a really good youtube video here.
Here is one recent discussion.
And a couple online articles
You can also google "running in the cold" to find lots of advice.
Hope this helps!
There is a lot of info out there. As you found out cotton is to be avoided, at least as the layer next to your skin.
The above is a rule I break almost every day. Why? Because I suffer from what I'll jokingly refer to as "Male Pattern Nipple Chafeage", and Cotton shirts irritate my nipples far less than pretty much any fabric used for running shirts. In my case, I typically run with a long sleevel cotton shirt as my inner most layer, and then a high-tech quilted long sleeve running shirt as my outer layer. Even still, it isn't unusual for me to come back in from a one hour or longer run with blood spots on my shirt.
Fat old man PRs:
For years I wore cotton shirts, mostly on (relatively) shorter runs (up to 10 miles or so). I got the shirts running races, so I wore them to run. No medals back then and the shirt was given out after you finished. Anyway, they tend to hold moisture and you stay colder as a result, plus the wet fabric tends to chafe more. OTOH, once warmed up I never noticed that they were worse for the cold. But a little petroleum jelly goes a long way to relieve the chafing though it tends to stain the shirts. Also there are commercial products to reduce chafing - relatively expensive. Most races give out tech shirts now, so I have a lot and of course, I wear them. I must admit that some of the tech fabrics chafe as much as the cotton, particularly where the race logo is on the front.. Others are very soft and don't chafe.
Interesting; I must have "won/earned" the wrong tech shirts (of which I now have 5), and they all chafe way more than my cotton shirts. Even still, the cotton can do quite a number on me if I run more than two hours or so. In line with your suggestion, I carry petroleum jelly in my car, in my running bag, and even keep some in my desk at work.
Fat old man PRs: