How to Dress for Cold Weather Running
"Do you want to run with me tomorrow?" I got my friend's message just before going in to teach my Thursday evening yoga class. I needed to respond right away or it would be too late in the evening to settle plans. My calendar for Friday was full of entries but it also had some windows of opportunity. I've been really great about practicing yoga daily, but my cardio time has suffered. And, I was excited about getting stationed with friends from other assignments, but haven't been good about making time to meet.
It was time to say yes and go for that run. Never mind that school was canceled on Thursday. It was not a snow day. It was a windchill day. It was just too cold to hold school. That's new to me! In anticipation of the bitter Kansas wind, I pulled out the gear that I had collected for marathon training through the cold Bavarian winter. (Note: My outer layers are black, great for standing out against snow, but I probably need to add some color for good visibility when it's cold but not snowy. And make sure to wear reflective gear when it's dark. I'm not too proud to throw on a PT belt.)
Cold weather running gear can be pricey so it's really helpful to look for sales or shop off-season. As spring merchandise starts hitting the shelves, you might start finding some clearance deals. Here's what you need:
- Warm shoes and socks. Look for Gore-Tex to keep the wet and cold out. Prices for Gore-Tex trail runners often hit well over the $100 mark, but I got lucky and got an unpopular color on Amazon in October for under $50. If you’re in the market, periodically look at your particular size in various colors from time to time.
- Synthetic base layer. Look for moisture-wicking fabric that will stay dry even if you manage to sweat. Wet cotton tees will stay wet and cold and perhaps lead to hypothermia. On the bottom, look for snug-fitting fleece-lined running tights. The fleece adds an extra barrier against cold and wind. If you can't find fleece-lined tights, on extra cold days, you could layer with long underwear or top with wind-resistant pants. On the top, opt for a tight long-sleeved shirt. I like ones with the thumbholes so I can easily add more layers without getting my sleeves bunched up.
- Fleece middle layer. Some people find that they don't need this layer, but I tend to be chilly all the time, and I'm a slow runner, so I like to have an extra layer of warm fleece on the top. I like to have something that zips so I can lower the zipper if I get warm. Again, I look for something snug-fitting so everything doesn't get too bulky.
- Breathable, wind/water-resistant top layer. Breathable is the key word here. If your outer layer doesn't breathe, moisture will build up inside of your jacket like it does on the inside walls of a tent after people have been breathing inside all night and you will be miserable. Trust me. I've experienced it. Look for something with a hood in case you need to keep rain or snow out.
- Hat and gloves. If your hands and feet get cold you'll have a hard time keeping everything else warm. Again, I go with fleece here because it's easily washable. I remove my hat and gloves or put them back on during my run to adjust for temperature changes.
- Phone. It's always important to be able to call someone in an emergency, but it's especially important to be able to call for help, especially when it's cold. I've had my husband come rescue me twice on snowy, winter long runs when I missed my trail home due to freshly fallen snow. I didn't want to risk injury by running further than my plan dictated but it was too cold to walk.
- ID and cash. It’s important to have identification on you in case of emergency. And, I wish I had kept cash on me particularly during long training runs. I could have had some tea in a café while I waited for my husband to come rescue me on those long runs. And, I miscalculated how much water I would need on a 20-mile long run. Again, I called my poor husband to meet me with water. If I would have had cash, I could have gotten it myself. Never hurts to be prepared!
What are your secrets for dressing for cold weather?