GET OUTSIDE AND LOVE IT! WITH SHORTENING DAYLIGHT HOURS AHEAD AND COOLER AUTUMN TEMPS AND PRECIPITATION ON THE WAY it’s time to think about wearing jackets during outdoor exercise. Not only for protection from the elements but for safety in traffic, which basically involves being highly visible in lower light environments.
It may be possible to get by this season wearing a jacket that’s already hanging in your closet. However, to best serve you during harsh outdoor weather sessions the item should be constructed specifically to provide weather protection and adequate ventilation for moderate- to high-intensity exercise activity that will raise body temperatures roughly 15-20 degrees. https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20803133/what-to-wear/
If you can afford to splurge a little, a tech jacket is something to start shopping for now. To help motivate saving consider setting up a personal ‘reward’ system now, while the weather is beautiful, that enables you to putting aside a fraction of the full price each week that can go toward this relatively expensive purchase.
In the RunToTheFinish blog article, Amanda Brooks put together a selection based on her testing a variety of outerwear for different weather conditions including wind, rain, and winter cold, and for darkness. Some prices may seem high, but for technology that delivers breathable apparel, some runners will find the cost is justified.
I believe this because for decades I ran wearing extra-large sized windbreakers from my husband’s cast-off pile layered over warm, bulky, non-tech clothes. Realistically we did not have excess funds to spend on the best fitness gear for ourselves while raising children who seemed to outgrow whatever they were wearing for school and sports. No one saw me in this unattractive get-up in early mornings, and I don’t think the fitness apparel industry offered as much back then.
The shortcomings of my budget sports wardrobe became apparent during long weekend winter runs when I began training for half marathons in my early 60’s. Thus attired, I would be alternately sweating under the unventilated windbreaker then freezing after shedding and tying it around my waist. But, in this way I managed to cool off and warm-up in cycles on a budget.
Finally, after 40 years of running, I bought the Nike brand tech jacket I still wear now. It has neon yellow plus reflective surface high-visibility features. I still layer as needed in harsher conditions but this jacket plus a complementing selection of base + tech tops provide comfortable temperature control and easy mobility.
SINGLE VERSUS SEVERAL JACKETS
Some runners love to have a closet full of jacket choices. Others tend to prefer a single, well-tested favorite that can be worn alone in milder conditions or as an outer garment as indicated by thermometer readings and sun radiance.
Geographic regions that don’t routinely deal with snow and ice may have more predictable non-summer weather for longer running, walking, and fitness outdoor sessions. And choice of a snuggly fitting performance jacket specific for the day’s weather might be perfect for most workouts.
While residing temporarily in coastal Texas and Southern California I happily noticed that relatively little thought and effort was needed to dress for long outdoor winter runs. Living mostly in Michigan and Ohio had taught me to expect Great Lakes seasonal conditions that could change from bad, to worse, to better and back in a single session. So, I came to prefer layers of apparel with a means of shedding/adding clothing over several hours.
This preference has recently been boosted because the Jeff Galloway run/walk/run method I now use for training and competition requires a regularly timed changes in tempo, which can result in periodic body warming and cooling. Dressing for protection becomes a bit more complicated if you intend to significantly vary pace/effort at specific intervals.
Wind speed should be factored into apparel selection on any given late fall/winter day. The NOAA Weather Prediction Center provides a handy calculator. Before adding 15-20 degrees to the actual temperature to get an outdoor-conditions “feels like” reading to dress by, check wind speed to determine the impact moving air will have on your session. For example, a 40-degree Fahrenheit day with 8 mile-per-hour breeze drops the number to 34 degrees F.
An alternative to protective layering that covers all weather conditions is arranging a convenient apparel ‘change station’. A home or car, located at a central or convenient point along a long running/walking route can serve as a place to store emergency outerwear, as well as hydration and nutrition. A stroller* run/walk, performed when a carriage can be pushed over bike paths or roads cleared of ice and snow, is another way to dress for conditions on the go as it can serve as a mobile change station.
SAFETY MATTERS TOO
Previous Earned Runs fall season posts have discussed high visibility safety options for outdoor exercise. A reflective jacket like that by PYR reviewed in Brooks’ article (or a clothing strip) can be helpful when light shines on its surface but arranging to have more than one piece of gear/gadget for maintaining visibility is a safer practice.
My go-to morning jacket is half neon yellow and half reflective gray. Motor vehicles can be made aware of my presence by its reflected shine and cyclists can see the bright color in the dim light of dawn. A hand-held LED light that bounces with motion shows me the way and announces my approach to others in darkness. In winter, when tall snow piles at the sides of roads or heavy snowfall or rain can cancel other visibility measures, I wear a Noxgear brand Tracer 360 on flashing mode.
Preparing to be comfortable and safe while outdoors for the upcoming dark, wet, and cold seasons can be more or less complicated depending on personal exercise habits and geographic locale. Whatever your workout situation, Brooks’ article may provide guidance and excitement about trialing new gear. By organizing a wardrobe now to wear for more difficult weather you may increase chances of getting outside and loving it.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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