When you think about difficult running weather, what comes to mind? Apparently for me it’s Winter and Summer. I’ve written several posts on that subject. What I’ve never written about? Spring running tips! Spring may be lovely, but it roars in with its own set of challenges.
I know, I know — we’re almost in summer. But some of you are still dealing with cooler temps — I hope you find something to help you here.
I still sort of consider myself a new runner, and I’ve been running for 10 years. You would think I have dressing down pat, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong! Winter and Summer can have their own challenges when it comes to dressing, but for most of us it will either be warm or cold.
Spring can have all four seasons in one day.
What’s a weather weary runner to do? It’s all about the layers! Windbreakers, arm warmers, jackets or tops that zip and unzip — they’re all your friend. You’ll probably be freezing before you run, but you’ll warm up quickly and either need to unzip, tie something around your waist, or shed a layer if that’s a possibility.
Also remember you need to look at way more than the temperature. I see this again and again: but it’s 55F out! Is it cloudy? Is it windy? Is it humid? What’s the dew point? 55 can feel an awful lot like 45 — or 60!
Try to keep your core, your head, and your hands & feet warm — doing so will make you feel warmer overall.
Different runners have different tolerances for cold and heat. You need to know what’s comfortable for you, and don’t worry about those runners in the shorts over there (or the ones in sweatshirts).
In almost 8 years of running half marathons, I have only run one in April. April can be nice, but there’s a reason they talk about April Showers. My half was called Mud & Chocolate, was outside of Seattle, and totally lived up to its name — but I knew that going in.
If you choose in the middle of Winter to sign up for an April race, don’t be surprised if it’s not warm. Obviously its location can make all the difference, but everywhere except the south the weather can be very dicey in April (and even in the South!).
If you do get caught in a rainy race or training run, a baseball cap with a long brim (or at the very least a baseball cap with a brim!) just might be your new best friend. Raincoats have a tendency to not actually be very breathable, causing you to feel like you’re running in a sauna — or be too breathable, not keeping you dry. Ponchos (or the ever popular garbage bag) may be better option.
And do not forget the lube! Friction + wet = a recipe for pain
Even Worse: Snow Showers!
Yup, Spring Blizzards are a real thing. Heck, three years ago I did a half in Maine on a May Saturday. It was unseasonably warm. As we drove home through New Hampshire & Vermont, there was snow.
Never, ever, ever trust the forecast. Two days before my half the high on race day was predicted to be 50F. The race started in the 60s with lots of sun. I had only brought one race outfit and I totally regretted that decision.
Spring has a tendency to be windy. If possible, plan your route so that you’re running with the wind on your way back, when you’re more likely to feel tired. Accept that you may (and probably should) run slower, because it’s tiring running into wind. Even better, deliberately slow your pace a little.
Don’t wear baggy clothes. You know those crazy Crossfit people who run with a parachute on their backs? Yeah, you don’t want your clothes to create a parachute (a parachute’s job is to slow you down, after all!).
Finally, the wind will make it seem colder than it actually is. Especially if you work up a sweat. Dress warmer than you might if it weren’t a windy day (and make sure that your layers aren’t baggy again!).
Hello Sunscreen, My Old Friend
After the gazillion layers of Winter, it’s easy to forget that you need to put on sunscreen again. Just one sunburn will probably remind you quickly. Do yourself a favor and put it on before you get dressed — this allows you to get at areas underneath your clothes without getting the sunscreen on your clothes.
Doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy. You can get burned on a cloudy day. Don’t forget the sunnies (sunglasses) either — again, even on a cloudy day. Sunglasses do more than just keep the sun out of your eyes; they help to protect them from foreign objects and just protect your vision in general. You will rarely find me without sunglasses on, no matter what the season is.
- Is it still Spring-like in your neck of the woods?
- Which season is the most challenging for you to dress for?
- Do you actually wear sunscreen and/or sunglesses year round?