Winter is upon us. The question that you are probably asking yourself is, should I run outside in the cold, run inside on a treadmill or just skip running all together until it gets warmer outside? Don’t let a little cold weather keep you from running and the enjoyment it brings. Believe me the winters in central Illinois can be long and cold. I am going to be discussing dressing for cold weather running and how to stay warm and toasty on those cold winter runs.
The first step in preparation is to consider the following factors:
- Temperature – Check the outside versus the “RealFeel” temperature. I use https://www.accuweather.com/ which displays the temperature and the RealFeel temperature as well. The real temperature will be a key consideration on how much insulation you will need.
- Outside conditions – Is it sunny or overcast? If the sun is shinning you usually don’t need as much insulation.
- Wind – Is the wind blowing, from what direction and how strong is it? The wind will have a big impact on how you dress. Do some planning and try to plan your run with the wind at your back.
So once you have considered the factors above you can start dressing for cold weather running.
Think In Layers
First off what do I mean by layering? Layering is wearing different clothes one on top the other. Each layer has a different function or purpose.
- Base layer -This is the layer next to your skin. This layer should be a wickable fabric, one that keeps you sweat away from your skin. Beware do not use cotton. Let me say it again stays away from cotton. Once cotton gets wet it stays that way and guess what? You will feel cold and uncomfortable. So make sure you wear a polyester or wool which wick’s or keeps moisture away from your skin. My favorite base layer is a simple polyester long sleeved turtleneck. The turtleneck keeps the wind from going down my neck into my jacket.
- Insulating layer -The purpose of this layer is provided additional insulation. This layer should be loose, comfortable and wickable. My personal preference is a lightweight wool or polyester vest. There is nothing like wool to keep you warm and toasty in any temperature.
- Outer layer – This is the outermost layer over all the other layers. The main purpose of this layer is to keep out the wind and rain. I found that a wind and water resistant jacket that has a little insulation but is breathable works the best. Another consideration you may want to look at is a reflective tape or patch on the jacket. You want to standout in low visibility conditions.
Protect Your Noggin
You lose body heat through your head. The fact of the matter is you will lose body heat from any part of your body that is exposed. To make sure you stay warm wear a running cap to keep your body heat in. You want to keep all the heat you can in your body. A comfortable stocking cap that is large enough to pull down over your ears works well. Another good option for those who don’t like stocking caps is a wool headband. I don’t know about you but my ears always seem to get cold no matter what the temperature is. You might want to choose a bright color cap just to add to your visibility profile.
Don’t Forget The Bottom Half
Running outside in the winter cold with your bare legs exposed in asking for trouble. Exposing bare flesh in below freezing temperatures can result in frostbite. A pair of running tights will help you stay warm and ward off frostbite. I prefer the stretchy form fitting type that captures my body heat but still wick’s moisture away from my legs. I have run in all temperatures and found these keep me the warmest. Running tights come in a number of different styles and colors for all types of runners.
Toes And Fingers
You toes and fingers are more prone to feeling cold due to the fact that your blood flow to your extremities is restricted in cold temperatures. The first part of your body to get cold is almost always your fingers and toes. I hate going for a run and having to deal with cold fingers. Running gloves are an essential part of my winter garb. I have found gloves that capture your body heat work great in the cold.
Don’t forget about your socks. The right socks can make or break a cold winter run. Here again don’t use cotton as the cotton will hold the moisture in and make for cold feet. A lightweight pair of wool socks looks best. Don’t forget about layering. You can wear two pair of socks on those extra cold days. Remember to try on your socks before you go for your run to ensure they fit comfortably inside your shoes.
Defend Your Eyes
A part of your body that everyone forgets about is the eyes. Have you ever gone outside on a bright sunny day in the snow? What happens? The intense glare off the snow will automatically cause you to squint and when you squint you wrinkle that delicate skin around your eyes. I don’t know about you but I already have enough wrinkles without creating more! A pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays and shield your eyes from the harsh glare off the snow.
Conquer The Cold
Don’t let the cold winter weather keep you from running. The winter landscape especially after a new snowfall is absolutely breath taking and will keep you charged up for running in the long winter months. Running in the weather does not mean that you are going to be cold. Following the few tips outlines above will keep you warm and toasty.
Now you are all garbed up and ready to go. So what is stopping you getting out there and enjoying that winter run?