What to Wear for Winter Running

Winter Running Essentials  happyfitmama.com

I get a lot of questions about what to wear for winter running.

How do I stay warm but not hot? How can I keep my hands warm? Do I need different shoes? What are the essentials?

Way back in the day, I would wear layers of cotton sweats, sweatshirts and whatever socks/shoes I had available. I usually overheated at first and then froze because my clothes were soaked as soon as I started to sweat.

Back then, I was only running a few miles at a time, so it worked. It wasn’t ideal but it got me out the door and running.

Every person is different when it comes to the cold. Your comfort level depends on many factors, including how fast you’re running, how you tolerate cold, and how long your run is, so your perfect Winter outfit may be different than mine.

Shoes: Unless I’m running in a snowstorm or soon afterwards, the roads in my area tend to be clear of snow. There may be spots of slush, puddles or ice, but generally it’s no different than running any other time of the year. If I am running in snow, I’ll wear a pair of trail shoes for a bit more traction.

Socks: On really cold days, I switch to a thicker sock, but I still wear low cut. I’m ok with my ankle being exposed a little bit in between my tights and sock line unless I’m running in snow. An alternative is to wear compression socks for more coverage.

Tights: I prefer to have less on my legs no matter what the temperature. Fleece lined tights are not for me. I get way too hot. Instead, I prefer a thicker material that at least provides wind protection. Some of my favorite brands are Saucony, Athleta and Janji.

First layer: A long sleeve, 1/2 zip, tech top, preferably with thumbholes is what I always reach for. I like to have something up around my neck for more warmth at the beginning. As I warm up, I can unzip to allow more air flow if needed.

Outer layer/Jacket: A good, waterproof and windproof jacket is essential if you are running in any kind of precipitation or low temps. Your first layer will stay dry, therefore, you will be able to stay warm. A good alternative is a vest if you don’t mind your arms being exposed.

Mittens: My hands being too cold is my number one complaint with winter running. Mittens definitely work better than gloves to keep the whole hand together rather than fingers separate. I’ve mentioned it numerous times, but Saucony Run Mitts have been a life saver for me this year. So far, the lowest temp I’ve run with them is 15 degrees with no cold fingers. They’ve been a game changer.

Hat: I prefer a hat over a headband. In the past I’ve worn my ski hats but when I started to sweat, it would soak the material and make me colder. Hats should be made of lightweight technical fabrics to trap just the right amount of heat, but still keep your head dry.

With my winter gear, I also tend to reach for the brighter colors. It’s a good way to be more visible with less daylight hours available. It also gives a little perk to my mood when everything is dull and drab during the Winter. And it makes you look extra marvelous.

What are your winter running essentials?

32 comments on “What to Wear for Winter Running

  1. I use arm sleeves a lot! I like that if I get too hot, I can just roll them down vs another layer. I will wear them with a short sleeve shirt if it’s not too cold. Luckily NC isn’t too cold and we can get by on most days with capris, two shirts (long and short) and a hat and gloves. I like fleece headbands too!
    Melanie recently posted..Weekly RundownMy Profile

  2. My list looks a lot like yours but my hands get SO cold that if it dips below 25ish (which it often does!) I use hand warmers. I just need them for the first couple of miles and then my hands start to sweat so I move them to my pockets which give me a little warming glow for the rest of the run!
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown: RemindersMy Profile

  3. I desperately need a better pair of gloves, thicker I should say. I love feetures wool socks for the cold and found that they actually keep your toes from freezing if you happen to run in the snow. I was pleasantly surprised. Great tips here. I always struggle with what to wear in the 30s b/c it feels different depending on the conditions of the day (wind, sun, humidity, etc.).

  4. It’s all about layers for me up top – I’d rather be able to take off a layer than be too cold the entire run. On really cold days I’ll wear spandex shorts under my tights and I’ve found it really helps with keeping me warm. I have one pair of lightly lined fleece tights but have only used them on super cold running days when the run is a little longer.

  5. Sounds a lot like what I do, but I need to try those mittens. I typically wear a really thin pair of gloves that I can shed and store in my pocket, but lately I have not found myself wanting to shed them EVER! ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a nice, new running jacket from New Balance on my Christmas list this year too; hoping I get to try it out soon!
    Sarah recently posted..Workout Recaps + Random Things I Love This WeekMy Profile

  6. I use a neck gaiter too, and have been known to tuck handwarmers into my gloves! I don’t really know what those things are doing to me though, and will check out the Saucony mitts. Thanks for the tip ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Great tips! I just bought an Asics running jacket and I’m so excited about it. I usually don’t layer up too much when I run so I’m looking forward to having this lightweight jacket to keep me warm and dry!
    Kristen recently posted..A Slight Chance of SunMy Profile

  8. Living in Chicago, I’ve become somewhat of an expert at running in the cold. I’ll say that you need a lot less clothing than you think! I layer, starting with a long bra top. If it’s really cold (in the 20s) I’ll put on a base layer, and over that another running top. On bottom, just a pair of tights. Again if it is really cold, I’ll put on knee high socks, otherwise, just regular socks. On my head goes a beanie or a fleece headband. Gloves with hand covers complete it. And away I go…
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted..But will it make me run faster?My Profile

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