I recently noticed the contrast between my dressing philosophy for running and cycling in winter.
For running, I try to wear as little as possible to just keep me from freezing (for lack of a better description).
The goal is to dress up to not feel too hot even at the peak of my run.
I’d rather feel a bit cold at the start – easily remedied by a good warm up before heading out,
than feel too hot during the run – unable to remove any layers, or unwilling to carry them tied around.
For cycling, I attempt to wear as much as possible to feel mildly warm the moment I set out (and potentially sweating inside the house).
The goal here is to dress up for the worst – fast, chilly descents, rather than for warm uphill efforts.
I’d rather feel a bit hot on the ascents – remedied by opening the jersey zipper a bit more,
than freeze my core on the descents – with no more layers handy to cover up.
2 reasons for the difference in approach:
- The difference in speeds and effort – my cycling speeds (affecting windchill) are 2-4x the running speeds, while the effort (approximated by HR) is usually similar, or lower. Thus, while the body is producing similar amount of heat, it’s facing a lot more cooling effect.
- The range of distance – most runs don’t take me too far from home and civilisation, thus always leaving me the option of returning and layering up if things get too bad. Even a 30-mile bike ride may have me an hour from home at times – too far to leave most things to chance. Thus, the conservative dressing.
This conservatism also comes up in other ways too – the only thing I carry on most sub-20K runs is the house key. No phone, wallet, or cash. On all my bike rides, except commute, I carry the saddle bag with tools and spare tubes, phone, wallet, keys, at least one energy gel, a spare light, and water bottles.
As an example, here’s what I wore for the 2 Mud & Flood weekend activities:
- Trail run (including running through a cold, flooded water hazard): Thin running shorts, short socks, full sleeve running top (found it too hot halfway through).
- Road bike ride: upper base layer, arm warmers, short sleeve jersey, bib-3/4ths, full-sleeve rain jacket, winter socks, overshoes, buff (was unnecessary), full-finger merino gloves, and a cap under the helmet.