Layering for Hot & Cold
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Layering for Hot & Cold

Layering for Hot & Cold

by Super Dave, Industry Expert

Here's a prediction. You're going to like running so much that you'll want to run even when the weather's awful. That's why you need to know about layering. Multiple layers of lightweight clothing keep you drier and more comfortable than a single heavy garment. They retain warmth while venting moisture to the outside. Remember that the layering guide is just that-a guide. Some runners in very harsh climates need all three layers when they train. Others, running in less severe weather, may need only two. It's your call. Let your individual running habits and conditions determine your choices.

Base Layer
It all starts here. This layer must move moisture away from your body to prevent chill. Cotton won't work-it just gets soggy with sweat. A fabric like CoolMax¿, on the other hand, captures the moisture and moves it to the outside. Your base layer can be as little as a bra or singlet and briefs, or as much as a top and pants.

Mid Layer
This is your insulating layer. It continues to move moisture to the outer layer, but also traps warm air for insulation. Don't make this layer too heavy or too tight-fitting. You might overheat!

Weather Layer
This layer protects you from the elements and completes moisture transfer by releasing perspiration into the atmosphere. Your weather layer could be a vest, a jacket or a complete breathable, waterproof running suit. How cold and wet is your winter weather? That's what determines your weather layer.

Quick Layering Tip
As the temperature rises or your activity level increases, remove layers. Add layers as you get colder or the temperature drops. Take off your hat or gloves to vent quickly. As much as 70% of your body heat escapes through your extremities.

Layers for the legs?
In most cases, one layer for the legs is sufficient. That's because the legs do not perspire as much as the torso. This layer should be made from lightweight, synthetic material. It should fit tightly, yet allow full range of motion. In addition to moving moisture away from the skin, the fabric has to keep the working muscles warm to protect them from injury. A second layer should be added on extremely cold, windy or rainy days.

Hot tips for cold-weather runners

  • Begin your run against the wind. On the way back you'll be less likely to get chilled from perspiration.
  • Don't overdress. You should feel slightly chilled during the first 5 minutes of your run. If you don't, you may be dressed too warmly.
  • Always carry a hat and gloves. If the temperature drops, you've got protection.
  • Drink fluids before, during and after runs on cold days. You might not feel as thirsty as on a hot day, but your body still loses a lot of fluid.
  • Don't risk injury! Warming up and cooling down are even more important in cold weather.
  • Exercise indoors on really cold days.
  • Use common sense. Don't take chances. Run with a partner.

The Percentages on Heat Loss

Heat loss in wet conditions
Loss of body heat occurs up to 32 times faster in wet conditions than in dry conditions.

Heat loss through the hands and feet
As much as 30% of your body heat escapes through your hands and feet. Wear gloves or mittens and the right socks!

Heat loss through the head
About 40% of your body heat is lost through your head. Wear a hat and face mask!

Heat loss fact:
A total of 70% of heat loss is through the extremities-head, hands and feet!

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