Mission to Marathon: Dressed to the Nines (Dressing for the Weather)

When I first started running, I never considered the amount on gear I would need.  Running is just slapping on a pair of sneakers, right?  Nope!  There are things needed for every season and every type of weather.  Feeling overwhelmed?  Well Hannah here is break it all down for you!


Note: We are “mid-move” from our house to shacking up with my in-laws for a few months while we look for a new house (our’s sold in a record 4.5 days). I had intended to take photos of most of the stuff mentioned in this post, but as about half of my clothing is in miscellaneous bins at my in-laws its just not possible. I am including some links to help, but can’t personally vouch for some of the items because they vary from what I own and use.

Planning your race-day gear can be complicated. As they say “no new is good new” on race day, and I definitely second that. You need to try out your clothing before hand to make sure nothing will be rubbing in weird places or shifting to reveal things you don’t want to reveal. And most importantly, DO NOT wear new shoes for a race…especially anything longer than a 5k. If you want to complicate matters even more, try planning for a destination race where you aren’t personally familiar with the climate. How do you even plan for that? Oh, and the Disney Marathon weekend…forget about planning months in advance because the weather can turn in a day down there.  I’ll talk a bit more in a few months about actually packing for the Disney Marathon Weekend, but here are some general destination race tips for hot and cold temperatures.

Running in hot weather:

1 – Stay Hydrated. I know this isn’t a clothing associated suggestion, but its definitely something to think about and that I like to mention as often as possible. Drink up the day before, the day of, during, after, and the day after. Yeah…stay hydrated! And not just water…make sure you aren’t losing too many electrolytes! Sports drinks, sports cubes/gels, coconut water, etc are all good ways to keep hydrated and keep your electrolytes up.

2 – Say bye-bye to cotton. Cotton is a wonderfully glorious fabric that I love dearly. But do I run in it? No. Especially not in hot weather. Cotton will soak up your sweat and then cling to you like no other. Try some moisture-wicking fabrics. If you can’t afford the “big brands” try picking up some up at Target (they carry C9 by Champion). I have scored some great clothes from the clearance rack in Target!

My favorite running capris are Under Armour Heat Gear. They suck you in like no other and they are wonderful in keeping me cook and keeping me sweat free. I highly recommend.


SIDE NOTE: In general, you should NOT wear cotton socks…ever. It took me forever to convince my sister-in-law to “pony up” and buy good socks and it made a world of difference. If you want blisters, be my guest, get some cotton socks…otherwise, find some other ones. I am partial to under armour’s, but Target’s C9 has come good ones and Thorlos is a brand I know many people love.


3 – Wear less. I don’t care what you look like in a bikini or bathing suit or naked…don’t think you’re going out in the hot, humid weather in sweats and a hoodie. No one cares. I promise you. And if they do…well…you know what they can do. Seriously though, you should have different clothes for different seasons. I am not a huge fan of shorts or tank tops but I do keep them in my drawer for those really hot days.


4 – Sunglasses.  A MUST for sunny days. You can find cheap ones or high-end ones. Just make sure they are comfortable and do what YOU need them to do. I have a pair that I wear for races that have a yellow lens and are polarized to reduce glare. I personally have issues with my eyes and have a really difficult time with glare so the glare reduction is important for me. I also like a light lens. But that’s just me. You need to try on different ones and find a pair that works for you.


5 – Know your gear. You may need to switch up your gear and accoutrements based on the season. I cut back on my running belt and anything on my wrist when its really hot. I also wear a wider headband (I love sparkly soul) because it keeps all my wispy hairs out of my face better when I’m sweating up a storm. Know your gear and know what’s going to bother you if you get hot and sweaty.


Running in Cold Weather:

1 – Layer, but don’t layer too much. You do not need the same number or type of layers that you do if you’re going for a walk as you do for a run. You will warm up once you start moving, I promise. This year we had record snow fall in Pennsylvania and it was bitter cold. And, I still shoveled our walk and parking spaces in a hoodie and sweats…in below zero. When you are moving you will warm up. If you are running a race, I highly suggest the “garbage bag” as your top layer. It will keep you warm (really warm) and you don’t need to worry about getting it back or carrying it through a race. Just remember to cut holes.

I have heard the tip to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer than it actually is. If that works for you, go for it. I just kind of eye-ball it and wear stuff I can unzip or stuff in a pocket.

My layering basics:


Base Layer (must be moisture-wicking). I actually like to run in Under Armour Heat Gear as a base-layer. But on really cold days I’ll switch and wear their cold-gear. I personally like a tee at my base, but whatever you are most comfortable with works best for you. For bottoms I wear a pair of long tights. For colder days you can get lined tights that are even warmer. I find I don’t really need this.

Layer 1 (top only). For me its a long-sleeve shirt or jacket. Again, I like moisture-wicking. If this is my top layer, I like a jacket with some wind resistance.

Layer 2 (top only). For colder days I’ll do a long-sleeve tech shirt and a jacket on top.

Layer 3 (top and bottom). For those below zero days…run inside? No, I’m only kidding… I’ll add a sweatshirt in between the long sleeve shirt and the jacket. And, if necessary throw a pair of looser pants on top of my running tights…sometimes even a pair of shorts on top will help.

Accessories: I wear a Lululemon headband and a pair of mittens. Sometimes I’ll throw gloves under the mittens if its really cold. And the hoodie helps on top of the headband. I get HOT fast so the gloves, mittens and headband often get pulled off and throw in my jacket pockets after about a mile. I have also pulled the headband down and run with it as a neck warmer when my head gets hot.


NOTE: If you are discarding clothing during a race, make sure you pack extra clothes in your gear back or pick up a thermal sheet after the race. You will cool down quickly and need to put layers back on shortly after you finish.

2 – I meant it when I said, say goodbye to cotton. Look, cotton is fine for an exterior layer in the winter, but make sure you have a wicking fabric next to your body. You will get warm and you will sweat and cotton could actually be bad if you cool down and then the moisture it is holding cools down and before you know it you’re at risk of frost bite or hyperthermia. You need something that is going to keep moisture away. And, definitely keep away from the cotton socks even in winter. I have seen people layer cotton over something else in the winter…that’s fine if you like layering socks. But, I tend to wear my normal socks, or a slightly thicker pair. Many people swear by smartwool, but I do not personally own any of them.


3 – Wind is the enemy. So is precipitation. You think its cold? Its going to feel much colder with the wind chill. I suggest your top layer have some sort of wind-breaking ability. For snowing/sleeting/raining, like we get here in Pennsylvania, something that blocks moisture  (water resistant) is helpful as well. I really like Under Armour’s storm gear for shorter runs where I’m not as concerned with wind-blocking. I wear a jacket from Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) for wind protection.

4 – Fluorescence and reflective clothing are your friend. When its cold out, its usually dark out later and earlier (duh…). If you’re running before or after work, there is a chance you’ll be running before its fully daylight. Wear clothing that will catch the eye of other runners, bikers and especially drivers!  Reflective is best, but fluorescence is helpful as well.  I don’t personally own a lot of this stuff so I keep to running during the daylight hours, or run take it to a treadmill if I need to run while its dark out.


5 – Switch up your shoes. I don’t do this. But it may be helpful to have a second pair of shoes made for wet running (that have gore-tex or at least less mesh). This is especially important if you’re doing long runs in the cold, wet weather. If you’re keeping your runs shorter and aren’t worried about your feet getting cold/wet during the run, it can also be helpful to have a second pair of shoes available if you want to run back-to-back days. DO NOT put your running shoes in the dryer. Let them dry naturally. I actually have about four pairs of running shoes, but I also own like…40 pairs of shoes. If you aren’t a shoe hoarder like me (I swear I wear them all!) try to get at least one extra pair of shoes  to have on hand. As a general rule, its not a bad idea to rotate your shoes to keep help each pair last longer.


Here’s my tip for buying shoes:

Visit your local running store to get fitted and buy your first pair. Then, either hold out until they are having a sale (usually when new styles come out) and buy a second pair. Or, go online and find your shoes for cheaper. Sometimes you can find last year’s model for half price. I love to support my local running store, but holy cow sneakers are expensive! I did not pay full price for all four of my pairs. I think I paid full price for one pair and then got the rest discounted.  Oh! Don’t forget to ask if there is a discount for being a member of a running group (our local store gives a discount to Team in Training runners) or for teachers/students. You never know!

Running in unpredictable weather:

1 – Plan multiple outfits.

2 – Pack layers. And extra layers. Seriously…fork over the dough for the baggage fees and make sure you have what you need.

3 – Take an extra pair of shoes if running multiple days.

4 – Scoop out the expo (know what will be on sale and from what brands) or nearby running/sporting good stores.

5 –  Check the weather, then check it again. Oh, and check it again. Wait, one more time. Last year I was checking the weather about twice a day for the 10 days leading up to our trip to Disney.

NOTE: This is important so I’m including it, and will likely mention it about sixteen million more times. I WEAR my running shoes on the airplane and pack all my running gear in my carry-on. I WILL NOT have my stuff get lost if my bag goes missing.

Here’s my September Running Train Plan! Thanks Jeff Galloway for an awesome plan for FREE. :o)

10 – Week Sept 1: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 11 miles

11 – Week Sept 8: Tuesday and Thursday 1 hour; Saturday 3 miles

12 – Week Sept 15: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 4 miles walk; Sunday 13 miles

13 – Week Sept 22: Tuesday and Thursday 1 hour; Saturday 3 miles

14 – Week Sept 29: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 5.5 miles; Sunday 15 miles


Hannah is an attorney from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She started running in 2011 while preparing for the Bar Exam as a means of helping her focus on her studying. Hannah completed her first half marathon in October 2011 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. In 2013 she completed 13 running events including 5 half marathons, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and 3 fun races (2 color runs and a zombie run).  She enjoys setting goals and crossing things off of her “bucket list.” Follow Hannah at www.workorrun.com, where she blogs about her everyday goals and challenges.

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  • Great post, especially the cold weather part. Living in Texas, winter weather is so unpredictable. I always bring more with me than I think I’ll need just in case! Never fun running long distance while being uncomfortable due to weather the whole time lol!

    • Layers is the key! Also, you can keep more on. One of my trainers for Team in Training finishes our long runs with ice/frost on her back because she sweats through her shirts and then it freezes, but she is still comfortable!

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