In Georgia, there is an expression: If you don’t like the weather, wait a few hours and it will change.

It’s true. In the South, we have crazy weather. When fall begins in September, we can still be having summer weather. I did the Race & Ride 5k at Carowinds in Charlotte NC in September & it was ridiculously hot…in the 90’s! Fall weather can be hot one day, cold the next, or both in the same day. This can reek havoc on a runner. What do you wear for that 8am race when you have to be there at 7 and it’s still dark? You thought it was going to be 40 degrees and sunny, but now it’s freezing because there’s unexpected clouds and wind???

I get hot easily and I know that running will add 15 degrees to the temperature so I tend to dress lighter than heavier. That’s fine when I’m standing in my driveway trying to determine how cold it is, but it’s different when I’m standing in the cold for 30 minutes or so waiting for a race to begin. Fortunately, I have learned the value of the running bag. It’s a nylon, draw-string bag I always have in the car with “running extras” like gloves, scarf and, my favorite, leg warmers (multi-colored stripes, my favorites!) The only way I learned the value of extra stuff in the running bag is from the times I didn’t have it and was kicking myself for being such an unprepared idiot!

Having cold weather accessories that can be removed is key for me. I know I’m going to heat up, so being able to take off the gloves, roll down the leg warmers and wrap my jacket around my waist is essential when I’m running. No over the head pullovers for me—Zip up only! And don’t get me started about how important pockets are and how hard it is to find women’s running pants with them! (What? Women don’t need pockets?)

Now having shared all that running wardrobe wisdom, I must confess that just 2 days ago, I realized my running bag accessories needed some updating. I went to my local park to run in the morning. Now the weather had been in the 60’s the previous day but a cold front had come through overnight which lowered the temps way more than I was prepared for. Plus the wind was strong and cold and I was not prepared. What to do once I’m already at the park? Pull out whatever was in the bag — a workout towel that acted as a scarf, fingerless weightlifting gloves for my hands & my trusty leg warmers. I know I looked a sight, but at least I was somewhat warm.

I have a 5k in the morning and the predicted temp at race time is around 35 degrees. My running bag will be filled with cold weather, removable accessories. The bottom line is, when it comes to early morning races and training in the South, as the Boy Scouts say: Be Prepared!

Happy Running!