It’s starting to look like Santa’s playground out there, which means it’s time to start dressing for winter running! It’s a general rule that when you begin your run, your body temperature will rise about 20 degrees above the current temperature. However, what makes it tricky is that in the winter you also have to factor in snow, windchill and ice. Sometimes, a 35 degree day will feel like 10 degrees because of that strong wind!
The key to being prepared in the winter is to LAYER, LAYER, LAYER! Running outside in the winter is NOT about bulking up in your ski coat and snow pants. Rather, you want to make sure that you stay warm and comfortable while still having the freedom to move around.
LAYER 1: Make sure you always use a moisture-wicking layer next to your skin. One of my staples is my Smartwool base layer, which I choose because, unlike a synthetic material, wool will also regulate body temperature and keep you warmer without feeling clammy. If you do use a merino wool base layer, it should be either 17 microns or less (or 150g/m2 or less) to avoid any uncomfortable chafing or itchiness. I prefer my base layer to have no zipper or collar, but that will be a preference you discover as you run.
LAYER 2 (optional): If it’s really cold (below 30 degrees), I will throw on a ½ zip or ¼ zip as a second layer, followed by my outerwear piece.
Nike Women’s Element Shield Full
LAYER 3: My last layer is my favorite – my Nike Element Shield Full Zip. It has thumb holes so I can get away with leaving my gloves at home. Plus, the thermal lining on the sides keeps me extra warm. The DWR (durable, water repellent) finish is great for drizzly or snowy days, and the full-zip guarantees that I can take my jacket off easily after my run. If it’s not that cold, I could actually skip LAYER 2 and just wear a base-layer and an outer piece, especially if it’s a wind-proof, ultra breathable piece like the Nike Element Shield Max Jacket. (Which I’m saving up for!) The Element Shield Max Jacket has an added adjustable hood, cozy cuff gaiters, increased reflectivity and a nice zippered back pocket.
Saucony Vizi Vest
With the increasing darkness, I will sometimes skip the mid-layer and put on a base layer, outer piece and then my Saucony Sonic ViZiPRO Vest on top of the ensemble just to make sure that no can miss me! This allows me to also keep my core warm without adding extra bulk to my arms.
CWX Stabilyx Rainbow
For my bottom half, I keep it simple: I swear by my CW-X Stabilyx Tights. I love the full compression and targeted support (knees, hips, core, back). It really helps with my leg fatigue during winter running. (Plus, tights and long Smartwool socks mean that my ankles stay warm!) I don’t typically wear multiple layers on the bottom, but depending on your comfort level or if you need extra warmth, you can throw a less form-fitting pant on top of your tights. You can also check out the insulated tights that CW-X offers.
And lastly, accessories! My YakTrax are my favorite winter running accessory. They have saved me countless times as I run over snow and ice. I don’t like covering my head, so I stick with thermal-lined Buffs to keep my ears warm. Lastly, I struggle with the infamous “hand sweat” battle when I run, so I run with my thin Saucony Ulti-Mitt (mittens when you need extra warmth, gloves when you don’t. Who doesn’t love that?).
Don’t forget, fellow runners – stay warm, but also stay safe this running season!