Cold Weather Gear

What to wear for winter races & training

Cold Weather Gear - What to wear for winter races & training
As the temperatures drop, it doesn’t mean you have to hang up your racing (or training) shoes. Instead it’s time to make some adjustments to your wardrobe and winterize. It’s the time of year when knocking the ice off the water obstacles in the morning becomes a norm. These races might include snow… yes, snow. But don’t be deterred—your racing season doesn’t have to end just because the temperatures are dropping. Here are a few tips to get you through those cold weather races and training days:


1. Don’t wear cotton. 
A common saying among winter athletes is “Cotton Kills.” Cotton gets wet and it gets heavy. It will suck energy from you and your core temps will quickly drop, which in long races or training leads to things like hypothermia.

2. Don’t try to be the tough guy. 
Dress for the weather. A speedo in December is just as dumb an idea as a snowsuit in July. Once it gets below 50 degrees, the cold is much harder on your joints and muscles.

3. Don’t wear too many layers. During the race or training sessions, you are moving. You won’t need as many layers as you think. Especially with obstacle racing, everything is going to get wet and muddy.


1. Switch Up Your Gear.

Bottoms: It’s time to switch from the cute little shorts to capris and long running tights. Many companies make running tights. CW-X makes a winter insulator tight, which not only is a compression pant but also offers the warmth.

Cold Weather Gear - What to wear for winter races & trainingTops: This is the most critical part of the body to keep warm. If your core is warm the rest of the body will follow. If you do not keep the core warm, it will draw the blood from your extremities in an effort to keep your main functions (heart & central nervous system) running leaving your hands and toes feeling the effects. Look for a cold weather specific compression top. Several companies such as CW-X and Under Armor make winter specific compression tops.

Hat: A simple, well-fitting beanie can make race day much warmer at least before and after the race.

When it gets really cold, there are a few options to keep you hands warm. The least extreme are simple work gloves—cheap, bought at a local hardware store. These will offer a layer of protection. The second option is more of a winter running glove with extra insulation. This is my choice for winter training. They offer a little bit of grip and keep my hands warm. The final is for extreme races—a kayak glove that is completely watertight, so your hands will never get wet. If you pop a hand warmer in there, you should be toasty.

Socks: Wool, enough said. Seriously invest in good socks; you feet will thank you later.

Cold Weather Gear - What to wear for winter races & training2. Change of Clothes

You definitely need to bring a warm change of clothes. You will finish the race warm, but quickly you will be cold and tired. You want to be out of those wet and muddy clothes BEFORE you start violently shivering.

3. Warm-up

In the winter, even more than the summer, it is important to warm-up. Be sure to include a run around before your heat. Engage your muscles in an active stretch. Make sure your muscles are loose, relaxed and warm.

Overall, the weather is cold, but it doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. If you live in Florida, your winter gear will be much different than in New England, but still be prepared. Hypothermia is no joke. If you are running with friends, watch out for each other. With these tips, you can be ready for race day and prepped to complete and train like a champion! That’s the dirt for this week. Next week, we bring you more tips to help you become your best.

Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter, the first professional female obstacle course racer, is a top ranked athlete in the Reebok Spartan Race series. She is also an endurance athlete specializing in ultra trail running races, a Spartan SGX Coach, and a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She founded, a leading source for all things obstacle course racing and endurance sports. For more information on Margaret, her upcoming book and online coaching services.

Margaret's book "Obstacle Race Training: How to Beat any Course, Compete Like a Champion and Change Your Life" is available for PRE-SALE! Click HERE to reserve your copy.

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