A blog by runners. For runners.

Winter racing: tips + tricks

winter-racing-tips-and-tricksA lot of runners put racing on hold after the fall marathon season as the temperatures plunge and the weather gets frightful. On the other hand, there are a handful of fun events throughout the holiday season and beyond — including winter marathons — to keep those legs moving fast. Racing this time of year requires some additional thinking, no matter the distance.

Here’s what I mean:

Consider preregistering when possible. 

  • Arriving early to an event, especially one that is set up at a park or other outdoor registration area, can be cold. At the Freeze 10K series where we live, it feels like an eternity until we get moving if we first get there a half hour or more before the start to stand in the sign-up line.
  • Don’t waste pre-race energy shivering! Preregistering means you can breeze through a shorter line, pin on your number, and warm up either in your car or by jogging a mile or so before the big event.

Bring extra clothing and alternatives.

  • For before the race, during the race, and after the event. You don’t need to bring your entire running wardrobe, but the wind and other weather conditions can make a huge difference in how, say, 25 degrees feels. It can be balmy in the sun or bitterly frigid if there’s a stiff wind. You’ll likely want to warm up before the race and have an extra layer for standing around waiting for the lineup.
  • Choose wisely (think layers) during the race and have a friend on the sidelines to take peeled off clothing as necessary. And if you’re hanging around for the awards after, there’s nothing worse than being wet and cold, so at very least toss on a dry shirt and coat.

 Flash the accessories.

  • Strangely enough, I wear my sunglasses more in winter than I do in the summer. The sun shining atop the snow can be blinding and really ruin a race experience. Alternatively, for those evening races or particularly dark, cloudy days, it might be helpful to wear a reflective vest for visibility on a course that’s open to traffic.

Don’t forget your water bottle, etc.

  • Many of us — myself included — are guilty of forgetting to slug water when it’s cooler out. Despite how we might feel, we’re still sweating out quite a bit, especially with circumstances related to racing. Fuel as you would at other points in the year before, during, and after your winter race.

Keep an eye on the weather.

  • Several times I have experienced races being either delayed or canceled due to winter weather (ice, snow, and even below-zero temperatures). Still, part of the fun of racing in winter is dealing with the elements, and many shows still go on.
  • If the forecast is looking particularly iffy, it’s a good idea to check the Facebook page or contact the race director to make sure your event is still being held. It might save you a drive in dangerous conditions. If your event is canceled and you’re still looking to run, check out these tips for running in the snow, sleet, and ice.

Written by  Ashley Marcin.

More tips (and tricks) for winter running