If you saw the photo I posted on Instagram and Facebook (scroll down to see it), it’s likely that you’re asking yourself, “Why would I want to take cold weather running advice from this crazy lady?” Okay, I kind of see your point. But hear me out. If I’m able to continue my runs when the thermostat drops to 7 degrees F, it stands to reason that I’ve figured out a thing or two about keeping myself warm.
Either that or my brain is partially frozen, which is eliminating any ability to think rationally. For the purposes of this post, let’s pretend that’s not the case.
Typically I don’t venture out in temperatures less than 12-15 degrees F. But the other day I had an “I’m going to go crazy if I don’t run today” kind of feeling, so I layered up and headed out, despite the ominous thermostat reading.
Here’s what happened. It’s like “Lady Gaga meets marathon madness”.
Am I suggesting you run until every body hair freezes? Nope. However, I am suggesting that you can probably do a whole lot more than you think you can.
Start to acclimate yourself by starting with shorter runs or walks in the cold weather. And, most importantly, dress the part of a cold weather runner. Below is a list of items to consider when preparing for chilly temperatures. Everyone’s body is a little different, so play around with different layers to find what’s right for you.
The specific items listed below are just examples of cold weather running gear. Shop around a little and read reviews to find what’s going to work the best for you.
(Click here to read my other running posts.)
On dark winter mornings, visibility is an issue. I have seen runners wearing dark colors and not a stitch of reflective gear. In my opinion, they are asking for trouble. Make yourself visible so that motorists and cyclists can see you in plenty of time.
Not only will headlamps help to light your way, but they are an effective way to make yourself visible.
The headlamp has a strap around the head, as well as one over top.
Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp
Or try this one with just a single strap (that’s the type I use):
Petzl TIKKA Headlamp
A reflective vest is a “must have” running item, in my opinion. I even wear my vest when the sun is shining brightly. If it makes it easier for motorists to see me, I’m wearing it!
This is the vest I use:
Amphipod Xinglet Vest
Or try this full coverage vest:
Amphipod Full Visibility Reflective Vest
(Side note: In Canada, we call this a toque – pronounced “took”. Just a little Canadian trivia to throw out to your running buddies.)
You’ve likely heard that you lose 40% of your heat from your head. Not only that, but your ears will freeze to the tip of your earlobes if you don’t cover them up. Fleece or wool should do the trick.
Here are a couple of options:
Asics Thermopolis® LT Beanie
One of the first things to get chilly is my chin. Pull on a neck gaiter so that you can pull it up over your chin. Also, if you find that breathing the cold air hurts your throat or lungs, a neck gaiter will warm up the air as you breathe it in.
Or you could go for the full head balaclava, which easily fits underneath your beanie (toque!).
Pearl Izumi Barrier Balaclava
My legs, arms, head and tummy may be toasty, but my fingertips will be frigid little icicles. Good gloves are a must for the cold weather.
Nike Women’s Thermal Tech Running Gloves or the men’s version.
In really cold weather, you might find that you need an extra layer for your fingers. Slip these liners underneath your regular gloves for added warmth.
If you really have troubles keeping your fingers warm, wrap them up in a pair of mittens.
This is one of the most important pieces of clothing that you’ll wear, so choose wisely. Ditch the old cotton shirts because they will just make you colder. As you sweat, you’ll get a chill if the sweat stays close to your skin. Wear a base layer that wicks moisture away from your skin. Look for names such as DryFit or CoolMax for good wicking fabrics.
Here’s one option:
Or you may prefer something that zips up to your neck:
Here’s an option for men:
Depending on the warmth of the base layer and the temperature outside, I may or may not wear an insulating middle layer. This layer will capture a pocket of air that will warm up as you run, keeping you comfortably warm.
Here’s an option for men:
REI Powerflyte Half-Zip Top
And for women: Cloudveil Polartec Run Don’t Walk 1/2 Zip Top
On wet or windy days, pull on a third layer to help keep the water from soaking through your clothes. Consider choosing something with a zipper so that you can zip or unzip to regulate your temperature.
An option for women:
Asics Women’s Storm Shelter Running Jacket
And for men:
Your legs don’t need as many layers as your upper body. Your legs will be moving quickly (right?), so they will stay warmer than your torso and arms. A good pair of running tights or pants will do the trick.
Tighter: Brooks’ Women’s Utopia Thermal Tight
Tights for women:
Nike Women’s Cold Weather Running Pants
Tights for men:
Sugoi MidZero Run Tights
When it comes to the rules for running clothes, socks are no exception. Throw out the cotton and buy some socks that will wick away the moisture. Not only will this keep your feet warmer, but it will also help you to avoid blisters, which can form when moisture clings to your feet.
You should be able to wear your regular running shoes. If you are determined to run on very snowy and icy roads, consider strapping on some grippers.
If you have any tried and true running gear, please share it in the comments section. We can never have enough options, right?
Now layer up, and get out to do your thing!