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How to dress for cooler races

I like to run in as little clothing as I can get away with. I like the cold on my skin when I run, so even if the temperature is below 0, you will see me race in shorts and tank top. If it is above 5 degrees, the tank top will probably come off too and I will go with just a bra top.

But how do you start your race when you are not that warm yet? Especially, if you are like me and hate the cold weather? I like warm, really warm – other than during the race. In clothing as well. So that is catch 22.

I learned a few tricks in the last few years. The dollar store and friends who have clothes to give away to charity are your best friends in this. I tell all my friends to not throw away or give away any sweaters, coats or pants that have holes or stains or are just too worn. I want them all. I have a drawer full of them.

So here is how I layer for the race: I put on my shorts and tank top. Then I put a leg warmer that I bought at the dollar store on my arms. These are my arm warmers. Then I put on the pants. Then depending on how cold it is, 1 or 2 sweaters. And of course the gloves that I also buy at the dollar store. I am not a hat person, so I skip that unless it is super cold (but I don’t tend to race in super cold, that is under -10).

During the warm-up, the top sweater and the pants usually get thrown on the side. Most race organizers collect these clothes and donate them to charity, so I don’t feel bad about just leaving them there. Then right before the start the second sweater (or if I only had one, then the one) comes off.

Once the race starts and I am warm enough, it is easy to throw away the leg warmers first, and eventually the gloves. I like to keep the gloves on for a while but eventually I got rid of them every time so far.

So with a little planning, you can really make this work both ways – you are warm enough before the start and at the beginning of the race, you don’t need to carry extra clothing during your race (I don’t know how people can run a race with a sweater tied around their waist – I could never do that!), and you can run in as little clothing as you wish.

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