How can a cold-weather runner stay cozy and comfortable in the starting chute on a brisk race day without wearing too much clothing for a 5K, 10K, or marathon?
Veteran runners know the secrets. Here are seven popularly shared tips for maximizing comfort and minimizing shiver-induced pre-start muscle tension on chilly race days.
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7 ways to keep warm before a race
- Take a tie-around. A stretchy lightweight jacket is ideal for holding in body heat before the run. Knot it around your waist, once you’ve warmed up. This option is ideal when a runner may need a warmer garment after the race as well.
- Tote a trash bag. In a pinch, a simple oversized garbage bag makes a handy poncho. Snip the bottom corners to make armholes, and cut an opening in the center of the bottom seam for a head hole. Then tear it off and throw it, as the race begins, when the plastic poncho is no longer needed.
- Test your tired togs. Why not clean out the closet before a race day? You may be surprised to find old jackets, button-down flannel shirts, faded fleeces, or other warm items you no longer wear. Even if these garments are stained or torn, they can make handy pre-race warmers, which can be shed along the way and collected for donations.
- Try thrift shops. Look for cheap sweatshirts, fleeces, parkas, and jackets at second-hand stores or yard sales. A $3-$5 cardigan or warm-up top is well worth it on a cold race day, and it doesn’t hurt to drop it as a pass-along on the course.
- Twist on a towel. Have a dingy old beach towel or bleached-out bath sheet? Why not wrap up in it in the starting corral and leave it behind when you run?
- Tuck into a throw. Old blankets, sleeping bags, and even snuggle-wraps work well before a race. Runners have even bundled up in ratty tablecloths to await countdowns before race starts. And these may also be discarded for donation.
- Toss extra tops to a trusted friend. Taking a pal along to cheer you along from the sidelines? Ask him or her to hold your jacket or sweatshirt while you run. After your friend shoots your happy finish line photos, you may be glad to have your warm garment back.
Here are two top tips for runners trying to stay warm before race starts.
Pre-race garments should be open in the front, so they won’t cover bib numbers, especially if these items may be worn past the starting line. Also, smart runners shed their extra layers before they start to sweat, so they won’t chill and cramp.
What happens to clothing and other items that runners toss along the race route?
Crews pick up thousands of pounds of discarded garments and wraps after a major race, such as the New York Marathon. Most of these items make their way to shelters, charities, thrift shops, or textile recycling outfits.
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