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?