I’m a list writer. So, as I’m preparing for the Salt Flats 100, I have written lists for everything. My friends and family believe I over think things, and that I’m pretty much crazy, but it helps me prepare and maintain my sanity as race day gets closer. I draw the line at making lists of my lists. At that point, I will have myself committed to the State Hospital.
Salt Flats is in the middle of nowhere, as are many 100-mile races, it’s not as if you can just run to the store and pick up a forgotten item. I have a list of what goes in each drop bag. I have a list of what I need to give to my crew. I have a list of things my crew needs to address at each aid station. I have a shopping list. I have a list of clothing to pack.
Springtime weather in Utah can be unpredictable. It can go from 75 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny to 30 degrees Fahrenheit and hailing in a matter of minutes. Knowing this, my list of clothing has nearly every piece of running attire I own on it. To complicate matters, I place the same items in multiple drop bags such as long sleeve shirts and pants. But you have a crew, why doesn’t your crew just carry it all? Because any number of things could go wrong with my crew, and I need to know my gear is where I need it to be even if my crew isn’t. My crew will come into an aid station and pick up my drop bag, so it is ready for me. If they are not there, for whatever reason, I know my stuff is there waiting for me.
Knowing what to wear at various temperatures comes with experience. Everyone’s heat and cold tolerance is different. It’s all about layers (Like an onion? Yes, like an onion). The colder it is the more layers you want to have on. The layers trap your body heat, keeping you warm. Your base layer should be pretty tight and made from moisture wicking material. You want any sweat to be pulled away from your skin and moved outward. If sweat stays on your skin, you are going to get hypothermia. After the snug base layer, I use a looser layer of fleece. You want some space to keep the warm air in, but not too much because if it is super cold or windy you will need one more layer to block the wind, snow, or rain. The layers do restrict your movement a bit making you a little slower in addition to breathing the frozen air so make sure and account for this when you are planning your runs.
If there are snow and ice on the ground, I wear Ice Joggers (Yak Tracks) on my shoes. I don’t typically need more than one pair of socks. I use smart wool socks in the summer and winter.
As the temperatures rise, the layers come off. Unless the elevation is over 7,000 feet or the temperatures over 90, in that situation I will cover up with a very lightweight white long sleeve shirt and white hat. I can put ice under the hat or pour water over my head to keep cooler. The best way to deal with the heat is to train in it and realize that you need to slow down when you’re running in temperatures you don’t normally run in. For a typical runner, every one degree over 65 degrees Fahrenheit slows you down by 5 seconds per mile. So, if you manage a 9 minute mile in 70 degrees, you will do a 10 minute mile in 82 degrees, 11 minute miles at 94 degrees, and slog away at 12 minute miles when you get over 100 degrees.
It’s possible to continue running at higher temperature, but you have to find a way to keep your core body temperature down. My relay team runs Red Rock Relay in September every year. The elevation goes from 10,000 feet to sea level and the temperatures go from 30 to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. On the second day, conditions are less than optimal. The temperatures are usually over 100 degrees. There is no shade because it’s a desert. We run on a black surface, and most of it is uphill. So, how do we keep moving forward? We dump ice water over our runner’s head every mile to a mile and a half.
Here is a LIST for you:
Below 20 degrees Fahrenheit: thermal base layer, fleece layer, outer windproof layer, two sets of gloves/mittens, headband over my ears, and something to cover my face and mouth such as a balaclava.
Between 20-40 degrees Fahrenheit: thermal base layer, fleece outer layer, two sets of gloves, headband over my ears.
Between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit: long pants, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt, and warm gloves.
Between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit: shorts, short sleeve shirt, jacket, and lightweight gloves.
Above 60 degrees Fahrenheit: shorts and short sleeve or tank top, light headband to keep the sweat out of my eyes.
Over 90 degrees Fahrenheit: lightweight white long sleeve shirt and white hat.