HOUSTON – The good news is, Dr. Vijay Jotwani, sports medicine doctor with Houston Methodist, said medical experts get more concerned when race day is hot than when it's cold because on average, there are more heat-related injuries.
The bad news is, Houstonians are not usually used to running or training in the temperatures expected this Sunday. Jotwani said runners risk hypothermia if improperly dressed for the Chevron Houston Marathon.
There are 27,000 people predicted to race on Sunday and potentially more lining the streets to cheer them on. That means spectators and runners alike need to dress for frigid temperatures.
Jotwani said runners should wear a base layer made of moisture-wicking material to keep them dry, a windbreaker, thick socks, thin gloves and a headband or hat.
“It's important to think about your extremities getting cold: your ears, the tips of your fingers, your nose,” Jotwani said. “Some fleece gloves would be great, cotton is nice, it's breathable but once that gets wet it doesn't protect you nearly as well from the cold. So, getting some of those good moisture-wicking fabrics that are available at running stores will be a good idea.”
Spectators should wear a ski coat, multiple layers and thick socks.
“They're going to be in those elements without having that running, that internal body heat so they need to... wear as warm of clothing as possible. A nice thick jacket, nice thick socks, maybe multiple pairs of socks,” Jotwani said.
The start of the race is going to be the hardest part. Jotwani said to stay inside as long as you can. He said a big mistake would be to get in the corral, stand still and let your muscles get cold after your warmup.
Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering and feeling confused. The bottom line is listening to your body.
“Take time to warm up along the way. It's when you ignore those signals from your body that we see issues come up and that's what a lot of times leads people into the medical tent,” Jotwani said.
Other things not to forget in the cold are to drink water (remember your body still needs hydration even in cold weather) and have something dry and warm to wear as soon as it's over.
“You cool down so much at that point and being again wet, this is a chance now that you've stopped running and producing that internal body heat to get something nice and warm like a sweater or jacket on you,” Jotwani said.