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OKC Memorial Marathon: What Not to Wear


This past week has been a roller coaster of weather.

(Welcome to Oklahoma, right?!?)

But going from 60s to 20s to 40s, from sun to snow to rain can be a real challenge when you’re trying to figure out what to wear when you go out on a run. Even though I’ve been running regularly for the past seven or so years, I still struggle with the what-to-wear, what-not-to-wear conundrum.

Seemed like the perfect topic for this week’s Q&A with Amy Downs, my voice in my head as I’m training for the half marathon at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

But before I even sent her any questions, she made it known that she shares many of my frustrations.

“Honestly, you have to be a meteorologist to run in OKC,” she said. “Emily Sutton is probably the only one that knows how to dress right.”

Ain’t that the truth?

I’ve been caught in a downpour, been way underdressed, been way overdressed … and all of that has been within the past year. Clothes are a big deal to runners.

And we’re not going to talk style here. I probably break all the cool-kid rules when it comes to running. I wear shorts with tights, which I’ve heard isn’t cool. So, I won’t try to tell anyone how to look cool.

But hopefully, this might help you keep cool. Or warm. Or dry.

Since cold is the most regular part of our weather right now, I asked Amy about cold-weather gear.

Do you have a rule of thumb on how to dress in the cold?

Amy: “If it is 55 degrees or more, I will wear a tank/short-sleeve top and shorts. I heat up quick and sweat a lot when running so I go minimal. Between 45 and 50 would be tights and long sleeve (but not too thick) shirt. Below 45, I could start to add gloves and headband that covers the ears. Below 35, I add another pair of tights and definitely the gloves and headband. In the 20’s, I will add a running jacket to all of that. In the teens, I will likely wuss out and not run.

Well, that begs a question — Is it ever too cold for you to run? Personally, I prefer to run in the cold over running in the heat. If it’s cold, your core stays cooler so you can run farther faster. But there have definitely been some times when it’s been really cold and I wonder if running is a good idea.

Amy: “The first time I showed up to run at a Landrunners training run, it was 12 degrees. I only showed up because I was supposed to meet some other people and I figured we would all go to breakfast since obviously no one can run in 12 degrees and live to tell about it. When I pulled up to the location, it was packed. There were over 200 runners and some in shorts and just a thin long sleeve shirt. I was stunned. I took off with them thinking I would surely die. After my lungs quit freaking out at sucking in that cold air, it actually felt really good.

“Is it ever too cold to run? Apparently not for some for some of these people.”

A quick side note — I ran Thursday morning, and the “real feel” according to my phone was 11 degrees. I went double layers on top and bottom, and while my torso was fine, my thighs and backside were as cold as I ever remember. They never warmed up. They actually got colder.

Amy: “Using a weather app on your phone is a requirement to being a runner. You need to know at the moment exactly what the ‘real feel’ is. The wind makes a big difference in how things feel. Not only that but … you need to look at the radar to make sure you aren’t going to get caught in a storm.

“I ran (Tuesday) night, and it was 49 degrees and windy. I overdressed and broke my normal protocol and added a jacket. I was a hot sweaty mess when I was done. However, my husband is one of the those ninja runners who is going to put on so many layers you can’t tell who he even is when he runs. He ran with two pair of tights, shirt, wind vest, jacket and gloves. On top of that, he threatened to get out the “carharts” and run in those when I made fun of him. When we finished he had not even broken a sweat and was quite comfortable. Me, on the other hand, in my capri-length tights, tank top and jacket completely overheated.”


I once read about the rule of 20, or something like that. Take the temperature, add 20 degrees and dress for that temperature. And a couple weeks ago when Jeff Beck, the general manager at Red Coyote, mentioned the same rule when I asked him about cold-weather running, that reinforced to me that this is a good starting point.

But Jeff also said that he has certain rules of thumb that he’s adopted over the years. He’s figured out what’s comfortable to him, and he goes with it.

That’s good advice.

And hey, if you want to read more, here’s a good link courtesy of Amy with some tips about cold-weather running:

The bottom line — you aren’t always going to get it right when it comes to apparel and running in the cold. There will be days when you’re too hot. There will be days when you’re too cold. Even long-time runners have it happen. And while it might be uncomfortable, you will make it.

We've put together a calendar with some options. To give it a look, click here.

Red Coyote has a training program for the marathon and half marathon. Contact the store at 405.840.0033 or go to for information about how you might get involved.

Want your training group included on our calendar, please and we’ll get you added.


Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›