What To Wear Running When It's Cold AF
Damn straight you’ll be running outside this winter. With the right gear, you (almost) won’t know how cold it is.
Everyone knows that running in winter weather makes you a badass. If you have the fortitude to gut out a long run in winter’s nasty conditions—the cold, the ice, the wind—you are one tough MF. Without a doubt, lacing up those sneakers and hitting the trails can be a struggle—that’s why a lot of those faces you see on the roads in September can be found on the treadmills come January. The right gear is critical, and so are layers. And don’t forget shoes that grip—icy and snowy paths in winter call for a different set of sneakers than you wear in summer months.
If you’re tough enough to give winter running a try (and you know you are), you’ll want to stock up on these items first.
#1. Compression Gear
A must-have for cold-weather running, compression leggings with thermowarm, sweat-wicking fabric will keep you nice and dry when temperatures drop. Compression gear increases blood flow and circulation in your body, keeping muscles limber and warm. Insider advice: To keep your core warm, choose high-rise tights that cover your stomach. They can also feel more comfortable than a low-rise waist when you are tucking in a base layer.
#2. Wind Chill Protection
Keeping your legs warm when there’s biting wind chill might be easy after mile one, but before that, you’ll need thermowarm running tights. The material offers protection from the elements, and some designs include a wind-resistant front upper panel to keep cool air out. To maximize your warmth, look for leggings that have sweat-wicking fabric to keep moisture from clinging to your skin.
Insider advice: On super-windy or cold days, don’t be afraid to layer two pairs of these tights—they are lightweight and stretchy enough so you’ll hardly notice, and can make all the difference in keeping your quads warm.
#3. Moisture-Wicking Shirt
Damp skin is your enemy on winter runs, since it will make your muscles feel icy cold the minute you head into the wind. To stay dry, pick a long-sleeve lightweight top made from moisture-wicking, breathable material as your base layer. It pulls sweat away from your body while still allowing air to circulate thanks to its mesh fabric, making it the perfect starting point for your winter layering.
Insider advice: On extra-chilly days, turn your sports bra into an additional layer by wearing one that provides fuller coverage. Bonus: The high neck and wide under-band also provide a little extra support.
#4. Keep-warm jacket
Now that you’re keeping yourself dry on the inside, time to protect yourself on the outside from wind and frigid temps. You want a jacket that is sturdy enough to withstand the elements but lightweight enough that it won’t hold you back as you run.
Insider advice: Look for a jacket with a relaxed fit. If it is cut slim, choose a size up from your springtime windbreaker in anticipation that you’ll be wearing one—or more likely, two—layers underneath.
#5. Cozy Headband or Hat
Your ears lose a lot of heat in a hurry, and no one likes that feeling when they get pink, cold, and start to sting. Make sure to cover them with a hat or a headband that wicks away sweat while still adding protection from the wind and cold temperatures. Hats and headbands that are lined with fleece or another soft fabric are ideal as they will lie on your forehead without extra irritation or rubbing.
Insider advice: On single-digit or teen-temp days, a snug balaclava and neck warmer are the way to go. Breathing gets harder as the air gets colder, but this throat-covering set-up helps warm the air as it enters your body.
#6. Non-Mesh Trail Runner Sneakers
On dry pavement, most comfortable running shoes paired with heavier socks should work fine, but when there are patches of snow and ice, you need to step it up a notch. Wearing trail shoes is your best call for cold weather running gear and footwear to keep your toes warm and to create traction. If you're battling cold without other elements, your regular running shoe will work.
Insider Advice: If you struggle with the slightly stiffer feel of trail shoes, try this trick: Wet your running socks with warm water, then put them on your feet. Take your fresh-out-of-the-box trail shoes and slip them on over the wet socks. Wear them around your home for a few hours. The warm wetness helps soften the uppers and molds them better to your feet when they’re dry.
#7. Non-Cotton Moisture-Wicking Socks
When you work out and sweat, your feet do, too. Heels, soles, and even skin between the toes all perspire and can make your feet feel damp inside your sneakers. Once they are wet, they’ll get cold quickly, which can affect your whole body and its sensation of warmth. Wear non-cotton, moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry.
Insider advice: Knee-high compression socks do double duty keeping ankles and calves warm while also providing extra stability and support on your run.
#8: Comfortable Gloves
Gloves that are lightweight and breathable help keep fingers and hands warm and dry. Choose a pair that fits comfortably, but not too tightly, on your fingers—a little space between the fabric and your hand will actually keep you warmer than an overly snug fit. For maximum benefits, go with gloves that have ribbed cuffs to help keep wind out.
Insider advice: If your hands get extra-cold in sub-freezing temps, try wearing mittens on top of your gloves. True, they are a little more clumsy, but mittens create a pocket of heat inside rather than separating each digit individually, which can help hands stay warmer, longer.
Now that you’re ready to brave a winter-weather workout, how about a race? Sign yourself up for this winter triathlon where you’ll ski, snow-bike, and snow-run through mounds of the white stuff.