Why You Need a Running Shrug

Keep Your Arms Warm Till You Warm Up

Urban Running Girl Shrug
Urban Running Girl Shrug.

Wendy Bumgardner

Long sleeves or short sleeves? That's the dilemma. Are you going to start out cold and just count on warming up? Or will you dress in layers and then end up tying your coat around your waist or stuffing it into a pack? What if you overdress and then regret you didn't wear a short-sleeved shirt?

When I saw the Urban Running Girl Running Shrug discussed amongst half marathoners on Facebook, I immediately ordered one. It sounded like a good solution to the cold arms problem.

A running shrug is basically just the shoulders and long sleeves of a technical running shirt. The Urban Running Girl version has a crew neck and you just slip it over your head. Pearl Izumi makes a couple of versions that have a zipper in front and a mock turtleneck.

Both versions also feature long sleeves which end with a fold-over cuff that you can flip over your hands for instant mittens.

The shrug is made out of sweat-wicking polyester technical fabric. The Urban Running Girl shrug is soft and silky and easy to layer over or under other shirts.

Reasons to wear a running shrug:

  • Warm up for any workout -- keep your arms warm until your internal heat kicks in.
  • Walking and running in cool weather when you want an extra layer but not a full shirt.
  • Long walks or runs where the weather is cool to begin with but will heat up later.
  • Turn your favorite short-sleeved shirt into a long-sleeved shirt without the bulk of an extra layer.
  • The fold-over cuff is a good replacement for mittens.
  • Once you have warmed up, you can remove it and just tie it around your waist or stow it in a pack. It takes up less space than a full shirt.

Wearing the Shrug

The shrug felt a little weird when I put it on over my usual walking shirt. It stops short of coming over your bosom, and I just wasn't used to having a shirt end there. Wearing it over your other shirt is the most convenient way to wear it if you plan to take it off once you have warmed up.

I next wore it underneath my best green walking shirt for a St. Patrick's Day walk. That shirt was short-sleeved and the weather was still very cool. Wearing the shrug under the short-sleeved shirt added sleeves without adding bulk. It was so comfortable that I wore it that way all day without a second thought.

The handwarmer cuffs are great. Once I used them I wondered why I hadn't been wearing the shrug all winter. I was saving it for spring, summer and fall walks that start off cool and then warm up. The cuffs are also a good place to stash some Kleenex for the inevitable nose drips you get on cold weather walks and runs.
How to dress for cool weather walks

The shrug is a great way to stay warm for the early morning starts of half marathons and other races. Previously I had tried arm warmers but I found them annoying to wear. They were always either too tight or so loose that they migrate to my elbows and I have to keep tugging them up. The shrug sleeves don't give me that problem. And once you take off arm warmers you have to stow them in a pack or risk losing one or both.

The shrug is much easier to remove and tie around your waist. Unlike tying a shirt or jacket around your waist, it makes an easy-to-wear belt without any flapping bulk. I will be making the shrug a regular part of my half marathon race gear.
Tips for Cold Weather Races
What to Wear for a Marathon or Half Marathon

Buy or Make
If you are crafty, you can make your own running shrug out of a long-sleeved shirt you already own. Just cut it off and hem it with a sewing machine or fabric glue. If you have a shirt that has a stain, tear or an ugly logo, this is a great way to recycle it into a useful item. You won't have the awesome foldover cuff mitten as with those from Urban Running Girl unless you are even more crafty.

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