A blog by runners. For runners.

Out cold: what to wear running in cold weather

dressing-for-cold-weather-runningThere are lots of tips and tricks to make running in winter not so terribly frightful. From understanding how to run on slick surfaces to seeing better in the dark to recovering after illness and overcoming all sorts of other excuses. But if you’re still finding yourself giving this season the cold shoulder, look at what you’re wearing.

Yeah. It may seem like dressing up for the cold takes longer than your actual workouts — but that time invested in layering yourself the smart way will pay off in the long run. I mean, how many of us moan and groan about the cold, only to set out and 10 minutes later feel horribly overdressed, sweating through whatever getup we’re in and returning home to strip?

Here’s how to dress for success:

Think layers.
As I mentioned above, the weather can be tricky. Temperatures on the thermometer are misleading when windchills are involved, too. So a 25 degree day can easily feel below zero with blustery gusts of wind. The key is having good layers of smart fabrics (basically avoid cotton or any other fabric that traps sweat and can become chilly when exposed to cold air).

The basics with layers involve a sweat wicking base covered by an insulating layer and optionally covered by a wind shield. The prices on these items might scare some people away, but consider that you can wear the same outfit over and over again, mostly just washing that base layer each day. I can usually get two wears out of a mid-layer and then many out of that top coat.

My favorite layer is my vest. I like keeping my core warm, while having the option to vary my extremities and even roll up my sleeves on certain days. A lot of layering is by personal preference, so sit down and make a list on the matter of comfort to discover the areas you like to be warmer and those you feel heat up fast.

Don’t forget your head, fingers, and toes.
Did you know you can “lose a reported 10 percent of your heat from your head . . . 30 percent through your extremities” ? (Source) Investing in a fleece cap or headband, along with a thin pair of gloves/mittens and some warm socks is in your best interest. I know for certain my runs are made a million times better when I can feel my toes. It’s the little things that can mean a bit difference in comfort level (and safety!).

Cover your mouth
This rule applies, of course, when you’re sick and coughing — or just to avoid breathing problems and burning lungs caused by chilly outdoor air. Eventually, you should get used to the below-zero temperatures. In the meantime, wear a loose scarf or balaclava over your mouth at the beginning of a workout. You can always lower it when you feel more comfortable, but even a small swatch of fabric on your chin can keep you feeling toasty, and I write this from personal experience.

When in doubt, check this out:
Runner’s World has come up with a handy tool for runners in all climates. Check out their clothing calculator, which asks you to identify anything from your sex to weather conditions to workout intensity to desired feel (warm to cool) during the run.

How do you dress for winter running in your hometown? Or do you live somewhere gloriously warm? Go ahead — make us jealous!

Written by  Ashley Marcin.