When the temps creep down, how do runners cope? It might be tempting to just pack it in and stick to the treadmill, but with the right gear, you can run in almost any conditions!
Even though the thought of running in these bone-chilling temps might sound like a cruel thing to do to yourself, winter running can be really cool. One of my favorite times to run is after a snowfall – it’s eerily quiet and peaceful (probably because everyone is inside).
What kind of clothes will keep you warm on a run when the temps are below freezing? I like to use DressMyRun.com and Runners World has a great What to Wear tool to let you know how many layers you need.
Your base outfit: Tights, base layer, jacket or vest.
You need to keep your skin covered, so you need running tights, such as the Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Tights. You want to make sure your tights are thick, lined and long enough to cover all of your skin. If you need an extra layer on top, try something like the Columbia Sportswear Women’s Storm Surge Pant.
Your base layer on top should be long sleeve and ideally mock-neck, like the Baleaf Women’s Fleece Thermal Mock Neck. If it’s really cold, and/or you’ll be out for more than an hour, you might want to invest in some merino wool baselayers, like the gear from IceBreaker.
I have a few jackets and vests. A great place for vests is Old Navy – if you wait for a sale, you can get a fleece vest (pictured above) for pretty cheap, and they also have puffy down vests. The Nike Women’s Therma-Sphere Max Training Vest would look sleek during or after a run.
For jackets, I like a mock neck and secure pockets, like the Mizuno Running Womens Breath Thermo Hoody Jacket.
Sometimes it’s chilly but not freezing (high 30s or 40s) so you don’t need multiple layers. You can just get by with a single layer. In this case, I opt for a mock-neck half-zip pullover, like the Nike Women’s Pro Hyperwarm Half-Zip Top.
Extremities: Feet, hands, head
You want your feet to stay warm without overheating. It might be tempting to double up on socks – DON’T. Unless you like getting blisters. There are lots of socks to choose from, and every runner has a preference. I prefer Injinji 2.0 Outdoor Midweight Crew Nuwool Socks for keeping my feet warm and dry, and the taller crew-length prevents exposed skin around my ankles. (Otherwise … ALERT THE ELDERS.)
To keep your hands warm, you can go cheap and pick up those stretchy gloves they sell everywhere. I have picked up pairs at Target, H&M and Old Navy, and they can also be found at your local drug store. Or, you can splurge. Vera got me a pair of
Mizuno Breath Thermo Running Gloves a few years ago. I also have a pair of Saucony Ulti-Mitts – I love having the extra “flap” that I can use for extra warmth at the start of my run and then tuck away once I warm up.
If it’s only a little chilly out (40s), I like to at least keep my ears warm. Sometimes a Bondi Band Moisture Wicking Headband is enough, or I might add a fleece headband on top of it. I have also turned a cheap fleece beanie hat into a ponytail hat. The trick it to find a fleece hat with a seam down the top, and rip a hole in the seam (no sewing required). I have a few knit hats that I’ve gotten as race swag that I wear on runs.
If it’s snowing and/or raining, wear a baseball cap or visor (put it under your headband or beanie) to create a “front porch” to keep the elements off your face as much as possible.
It’s also a good idea to pick up a neck warmer. You can find affordable ones at sporting goods stores – check near their ski apparel. The one pictured below is by BULA. The Buff Original Headband can also work as a neckwarmer or headband.
Safety: See and Be Seen
Now that the days are shorter, many of us have to run in the dark. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but it still beats the treadmill in my opinion. In regards to safety, you want to be seen. The cheapest and most versatile option is to wear a reflective vest over your clothing, although that’s not always the most flattering.
RelaxReflect has a lot of cute super reflective running clothes – tights, tops, arm warmers, skirts, capris, hats. They have styles for men, women, and kids.
Please please please make sure you wear something reflective if you are running in the dark. And more than just the tiny reflectors that are on your shoes or that is the tiny logo on your top. I see a lot of people walking around or kids riding bikes at night, and without wearing anything reflective, I literally cannot see them until they come in the direct path of my headlights. It scares me to know how easy it would be for me to accidentally hit them if I were making a turn or had to swerve.
So that’s how you can be seen, but you also need to be able to see. If you can find a well-lit area to run (like if your neighborhood has streetlights), that’s probably enough (as long as you wear reflective gear so cars can see you). But if you need extra light, you can wear a headlamp (check your local sporting goods store near their camping equipment), or Knuckle Lights. The bonus to wearing a light is that it is yet another way for cars to see you.
What’s your favorite winter running gear?