Keeping a Cold Running Temperature Log

A few years ago I was training for the Yukon Arctic Ultra, a race that has often been dubbed as the world’s coldest and toughest ultra marathon. I had grabbed coffee with a lady who previously completed this race and she mentioned that picking the right gear for race day was the hardest part, and knowing what will work in those temperatures is essential to be successful for that race. While an injury ended up preventing me from doing the race that year, something great came out of training for it – the birth of my cold weather running temperature log! For those that know me, you know that my biggest running pet peeve is when people or companies try to list what gear to wear at specific temperatures. As I wrote about in my last blog (Tips for Cold Weather Running), cold is different for everyone, and everyone feels ‘cold’ differently. A cold running temperature log allows you to dive right into how you individually respond to cold weather while running, helping make you more prepared and safe in the cold.

What is a cold running temperature log?

A cold running temperature log is a book, in addition to my normal running log, that I pull out in the winter to record what gear I wear at different temperatures and how I feel wearing it. It helps take the guesswork out of how to dress in cold weather. Whether you find yourself suddenly experiencing a cold snap where you live, or if you need help jogging your memory (see what I did there?) with so many varying temperatures, this log allows you to take a look at what temperature you are about to go out in, see what you wore at previous temperatures, and ultimately let you be more prepared and safe for your run.

What do I record?

  • Temperature: What temperature is it outside for your run? Use either a weather website or your thermometer, but keep where you take your reading from consistent.
  • Windchill: Is there a windchill? What is it? Windchill can have a huge influence on what you wear and what temperature it actually feels like.
  • What I wore: List in detail all of the gear you wore. Include the small (important) details too like whether your material was Gortex, merino wool, etc. Don’t forget about what you wore on your head, as shoes, and on your hands!).
  • How it felt: Based on what you wore for your run in that specific temperature, were you too hot? Too cold? Too sweaty? Were certain parts of your body more or less comfortable/hot/cold than others?
  • What I would do differently/other notes: Recording this will help you plan better for the next time to run at a similar temperature. Based on what you wore and how you felt with that gear, would you have done something differently if you could go back in time and pick out your gear? This is also a great time to record additional notes, like maybe you were running during your menstrual cycle and that influenced your fitness level at the time (impacting how your body responded to the cold), maybe it was a blizzard and what should have been an easy run just felt like a wet and cold slog.

Additional tips

  • Record in your log book as soon as you are done your run. You might think you’ll remember just fine in a few hours or the next morning, but it is impressive how quickly we forget.
  • A temperature log does not only have to be for cold weather running. You might find it just as useful for running in heat or even for recording any temperature throughout the year. A temperature log should be to serve just you, and you can decide what temperature range is most useful to keep track of.
  • The more information and detail you record, the more helpful it will be for your future running.
  • A temperature log is not 100% fool proof. There are many things that can vary from year to year (and even from early season to end of season) that influence how you feel cold. These include your fitness level, body fat, and wear on your gear. For example, I find that my body fat gets cold super fast and can be much more prone to frost bite. I might have recorded a run last year where I felt good in certain gear in a certain temperature, but if I have additional body fat now (like on my butt), I might need to increase my layering (or switch fabrics – like merino wool underwear), to accommodate for that change in my body.
  • A temperature log doesn’t have to be a physical book. If keeping an online log (or notes on your phone) work better for you, do that!
  • Have some sort of filing system for the different temperature ranges you are using. However you find it most useful for you. I use different stickers at the top of my page which correspond to temperatures ranges that I choose, as well as an additional sticker when windchill was a factor in that run (see photo at top for mine).

An example of one of my logs

With a very strong caveat that this is how my body handles that temperature, and this should only be used to see how I write my log, not what you should wear at that temperature. 🙂

Happy cold weather running!!

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