by George Hancock
“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a quote attributed to numerous individuals. That sentence was perfected by several ad men in the early 20th Century. Of course, many today realize in our highly visual age that pictures or videos shape nearly everything.
And that is where this fleece versus jacket thought originates. There really is no controversy here to the best of my knowledge. I’ve yet to read an opinion piece promoting or condemning one over the other. I guess one could say it’s a matter of perception.
Today’s new running generation is selfie- or picture-generated conscious. There are numerous remarkable pictures appearing before, during, and after races. Perhaps there are more intriguing photographs from simple running workouts.
These pictures are unique. The run or race is well documented. At times I’m envious of this picture- perfect trend. There are few photographs of road events during the ’70s and ’80s. There may be a picture of a race start or an individual finish in some larger races. But, pictures from the local 10K are nonexistent.
So, what I’ve noticed is many pictures depict younger runners running in fleece tops. The fleece is generally a hoodie or a one-quarter zipper top. The cold-weather pictures are striking. These runners seem, in my opinion, cold. I’ve examined the facial expressions and the body language. Most of these runners look like they’re shivering.
Now, I run in fleece but not during cold wintry weather. Or, during wet and windy weather. I run in a weather-appropriate jacket. My jackets keep me warm and dry. And, most are the Hi-Vis colors alerting motorists to my presence.
My running career in the early ’70s was different. Runners at that time did not have high-tech running clothing. Cotton clothing was the staple. I embraced every new running clothes innovation.
Every one of my 104,000 plus miles run was outside. Miserable weather running was a seasonal feature in Greater Johnstown. I cheered when Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter developed their running clothes line. Gore Tex was heartily lauded when their garments appeared.
There are specially designed fleece running tops. These generally are made with Polartec. This high-tech feature insures runners have a warm, water-resistant and breathable running experience.
However, this fleece garment is expensive. Yet, Dri-Fit, Gore Tex, or Flash Dry jackets are also expensive. My advice to the everyday outside runner is invest in the jackets. Proper care and adhering to washing guidelines insure the garment’s long life.
A lot of the fleece I see is basic cotton/synthetic materials. These look great but one wonders how durable they are during long runs. Factor in a cold wintry mix with below-freezing temperatures and that runner faces a miserable run. No doubt this weather condition accounts for those aforementioned picture grimaces.
One of road running’s Golden Rules is: “It’s better to be slightly cold and dry, than overly warm and sweating.” Running jackets provide, in my opinion, the best all-weather protection.
Of course, I also run in fleece tops under the right weather conditions. These weather conditions include cool dry weather and cooler predawn hours. I run in the better quality fleece. The standard hoodies are OK but questionable during long-distance runs. These are perfect in post-race situations or for post-long run cool down scenarios.
Every runner is different. This point makes our sport unique. Running maxims, thoughts, and training methods are not the same for every runner. Some runners can run 15 miles on a cold rainy day wearing regular fleece. It’s possible. Just examine their post-run pictures.
April’s 30 days are upon us. Rejoice in the greening landscape outside. Run well, run smart. And dress wisely for the weather.