January 23, 2013

Tips for a cold-weather race: provided by a true novice

When a fellow RD friend called me before New Years to ask if I wanted to participate in a “Snow-Fun Run” in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin I queried my husband first.  The weather report predicted 25 degree weather with a chance of snow and the race promised 5 miles of back-road running, shots of schnapps at the finish line and a rowdy party with food and drinks afterwards.  Husband said: “sounds weird – let’s do it!”  

Neither of us has ever done an organized race before, but our invitee participates all the time and can even boast marathon completion.  With the holidays and hectic schedule, we decided against training despite our lack of running ability.  I did purchase some cold-weather running clothes after doing a quick online search that suggested layering moisture-wicking garments.  I had:  
  • Running tights under pants with pockets (for holding items when you get hot)
  • Moisture-wicking t-shirt covered with a lightly insulated, hooded, zip up jacket
  • A hat (or warm headband)
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses (snow and overcast skies create a squint-inducing glare)
  • Cell phone for taking pictures and calling friends after the race
  • Tissues for cold-weather runny noses
Besides clothing, I prepared the proper fuel for our race even though it was a short distance based on a recent sports nutrition seminar taught by Nancy Clark, RD that I recently attended.  We increased our water intake both the night before and day of, stopping about 1 hour prior to the actual run.  I made a light, balanced breakfast of scrambled eggs on whole wheat English muffins.  We had coffee twice that morning as caffeine is a proven performance enhancer.  

Our pre-race lunch included protein, electrolytes, and carbohydrate in the form of whole foods including peanut butter on whole wheat crackers, banana and apple slices, grapes, and a hard-boiled egg with a little salt sprinkled on.  Ravenous after the race, we had veggie burgers with tomato and lettuce – they tasted amazing after our 5 miles in the snow.  There may have also been some schnapps and Miller Light involved.  When in Rome….

I’m proud to say that our team of three successfully completed the race at about a 10-minute mile, running the entire time (except a very short walking break for myself at the top of the long hill when I started wheezing).  It started snowing right as we took off and was coming down at a good pace as we approached the finish line.  I really loved the energy of running with a group; people dressed up in funny costumes and cheering each other along the way during the run definitely allowed me to go much further and faster than I ever thought I could.  Though I suffered from sore legs for a couple days after, I had such a great time that I hope to be signing up for another race sometime soon……maybe in the spring.  

Whether you are running a 5k, 5 mile or beyond, it makes for a more enjoyable experience if you arrive with the right clothing and fuel your body properly for optimum performance.  You can’t control the weather, but you can control you attitude.  And you might want to consider training….just a little. 


  1. So much fun! I'm so glad you and Trevor came up and ran. I'm super proud of both of you on your first organized race. We have to do this again soon :)

  2. Definitely - I had such a good experience!