We seemed to have skirted the blustery cold and snow for a little while, but Mother Nature sure has a way for making up lost time and now winter is officially here. When I look ahead at the 10-day forecast, it doesn’t seem like there will be much relief any time soon.
Which can only mean one thing — time to bust out all the winter running gear and to brush up on some winter weather running tips! There are so many components and details to having a successful winter run when it comes to suiting up in running gear and donning accessories. I hope I don’t miss anything, but if I do, check out my post “9 Tips to Keep You Warm, Dry, and Happy.” There are some great winter running tips there, too.
Let’s get into it — how to dress for success and run through winter!
1. Pick appropriate layers on top. This will depend on the current temperature as well as the “feels like” temperature. It’s also highly dependent on wind or precipitation, if any. There are some days when it’s in the 30s and I can get away with a t-shirt layered with a half zip shirt, but then some days in the 30s when it’s windy and I need a second layer of long sleeves. This year, I’m loving my Breath Thermo gear from Mizuno. Things to remember: your core is infinitely warmer than appendages. Choose easily adjustable items of clothing on top — things with zippers, pockets, velcro, easy to roll up the sleeves, etc.
2. Don’t forget to layer your bottom half, too. Last year, when it was bitterly cold and I was running through the desolate tundra Old Man Winter so lovingly provided, I layered my fleece-lined running tights with shorts. I thought I was adding warmth because it was unforgivingly cold. Little did I know that at any temperature in the teens, it’s very beneficial to layer to protect those quads! Please remember, everyone looks like a goober running in the winter. Do what you have to do to keep yourself warm and dry. If you own wind pants or wind tights, wear them.
3. Protect those tootsies! Brrrrr! What can be worse than cold toes on a run? Wet, cold toes on a run. There’s one very simple solution to both of these potential problems — wool-blend socks. They itch, they’re thicker than summer training socks, but they work. They’ll keep your feet and toes nice and warm when they’re dry. And if you run through snow and soak through your shoes, they’ll still keep you warm.
4. Gain traction and avoid slips, trips, and falls! Otherwise known as “biting it.” Try to avoid such a scenario with proper footwear. There are lots of different ways to gain traction in the ice and snow. Some use added traction like YakTrax, some put screws into the bottoms of their shoes. A third option is to invest in a pair of rugged trail shoes. Designed to keep a trail runner upright on slick and uneven terrain, rugged trail shoes do a phenomenal job in the snow, too.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It’s so easy to forget to stay hydrated in the cold. Your body produces less sweat but you’re still working hard (sometimes harder in the snow) and you need to replace the lost fluid. Pro tip: a hydration vest is amazing in the winter. It reflects back your own heat so your core stays warmer.
6. Consider a neck gaiter, scarf, or Buff for added protection against the elements. One of my favorite new products is the full size Buff. It transforms into so many different sizes and has so many different uses. My favorite use of the full size is to use as a neck gaiter. Then if I get hot, I pull it up over my ears and wear it as a doo-rag. It’s an amazing piece of fabric. (In full disclosure, I’m in process of reviewing this brand so keep a look out for a review coming soon.)
7. “My, what big ears you have…” Don’t forget about those ears! If you have long hair, I highly recommend pulling your hair over your ears before putting on earmuffs, headband, or hat. My ears are infinitely warmer when I do this. Regardless of your hair situation, be sure to invest in quality ear protection. Again, windproof-lined fleece is best. Wool-blend and fleece hats are great. Earmuffs are good, too.
8. Hand, hand, fingers, thumb. Those digits you use to type, write, and eat with? Yeah, those are important. There’s a trick to keeping your hands warm, though. Here’s the secret — don’t buy running gloves. (?!) They’re really constrictive! I’ll get into why that’s important later, but trust me. Get a pair of glove liners (Patagonia makes some), fleece or wool-blend convertible mittens, and you’re good to go! All the fancy hand-wear with the “touch compatible” fingertips? It’s nonsense! Garbage, I say! Of course this is completely personal preference, you might really like run-specific gloves — they just don’t work for me. 🙂
9. Keep your electronics warm. Phones, iPods, even some watches, do not like drastic temperature swings. If you run with your phone in your armband and it’s cold out, there’s a good chance it won’t function when you take it out to change songs or take a photo. There are two life hacks in this situation. One, you can run with it closer to your body and protected from the elements such as in an interior pocket of your jacket or shirt. Two, you can run with an extra ziplock bag so that when your phone does fail, you can put it in the bag and then stuff it someplace against your skin to warm it up for a few minutes. (I had to do the latter option several times last winter. It worked but boy was it cold!)
And two things to avoid:
1. Avoid cotton. Cotton soaks all moisture and does not wick it away. Body moisture regulates your temperature. If you’re cold and wearing cold, wet clothing, you will continue to be cold. Choose fabrics made of synthetic or wool-blend materials.
2. Avoid tight-fitting clothing. When you wear tight fitting clothing, there’s no space between your skin and the fabric of your apparel. No heat can stay within the confines of the air pocket between your body and the clothing. When you wear a shirt that is a bit looser (but not too loose so as to lose all the heat from the bottom or top of the shirt), the space between your skin and the fabric acts as a pocket, trapping warmth and radiating it back to your body. In the summer, this can be a bad thing. But in the winter, it is phenomenal. When coupled with the appropriate layers, creating these pockets of body temperature to bounce back to you is a fantastic mechanism to keep your body warm and regulated.
When it comes to staying warm and dry, we look specifically at apparel and dressing ourselves effectively head to toe. There is nothing worse than chattering teeth on a long, winter run. Armed with these tips, some great cold weather apparel and shoes, and lots of snacks and hydration options, you’ll be good to go with any distance run you choose — snow or shine!Have a great run and happy trails!
TALK TO ME!
What’s one tip you’d like to add to this list?
Do you run with hydration in the cold?
Linking up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud!