It’s already well into winter here in the U.S of A, so this post is kind of late, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be helpful to some. Sometimes what prevents people from running out in undesirable weather conditions is because they don’t have the proper gear for the occasion.
Running in cotton t-shirts in the heat of summer is not optimal for many which is why moisture-wicking running shirts are so popular. In the winter, t-shirts are obviously not going to be the only clothing worn (for the most part), but even long-sleeves are likely not going to be enough to prevent the cold from settling into your bones.
When I made the transition from 5k’s and 10’s to long-distance running, training in the winter became something I now to be a bit more particular about. It’s one thing to run 2-3 miles on a treadmill to avoid the cold. It’s another to run 10 miles on one. The same goes for running outside in the cold, rain, or snow. Long-distance running and training meant that I needed to be properly equipped to take on the conditions that may Mother Nature set forth for me and that meant being smarter about my running gear.
The following section includes my five items that, for me, are essential for winter running. Without them, I likely wouldn’t be as consistent with my training as I’ve learned to be and I most certainly would not enjoy winter running nearly as much.
The headband is essential. Like…very essential. We all try to layer up in the winter because we want to stay warm, but because heat escapes through whatever is not clothed, wearing something on your head is kind of necessary. I don’t need a full on beanie, personally, but my ears do need to be covered and it helps that my forehead gets to stay warm as well. I’ve had this Nike thermal headband since high school and it’s travelled with me so many places, I have no idea how I’ve never lost it. Yikes…please tell me I didn’t just jinx this!
Heat would escape the body through the hands as well—just as explained above—but this isn’t really why I wear gloves. I wear gloves not because I want to keep the heat inside my body, but rather to keep my fingers from becoming painfully numb. I know what you’re thinking: How can they be numb and yet I still feel the pain? Let’s just leave that one be, shall we?
I have two pairs of gloves for running. The ones here are my heavy duty gloves I bought a couple years ago when my old gloves could no longer keep my hands warm on a 20+ mile run in the bitter cold or snowfalls of New Jersey. I still kept those older gloves though (again, I’ve had them since high school) and I’m glad I did because I don’t really need the heavy duty gloves while here in Portland…not yet, at least! I highly recommend you invest in a good pair (or two) of running gloves if you are running or planning to run regularly. Your fingers will thank you.
Winter running jacket
The old soccer warm-ups were no longer cutting it. It’s crazy how much I’m just realizing how much my wardrobe/gear has changed since transitioning to running longer distances. I used to run in soccer warm-ups all the time and be just fine. But two years ago I got a gift card for Dick’s Sporting Goods for Christmas and I decided a top-quality cold-running jacket was what I needed most and I’m so glad I made that decision. This Nike Storm-Fit is the best winter apparel item I own and I wouldn’t have made it through half of my winter runs without it. It cost a pretty penny, but it was worth it. If you are on a budget, do some research (this includes reading reviews) and try and find a good winter running jacket that is appropriate for use in the temperatures you’ll be running in…That’s right: they aren’t all made for a one-size-fits-all winter. This Nike one has a bit of ventilation so I don’t get overheated, but not to the point where I feel any cold air coming through. And I bough it in orange for the extra visibility. 🙂
Very good moisture-wicking long sleeve
A good long sleeve is also essential. A clutch winter jacket is important, but not every run requires one. Sometimes all you’ll need is a long-sleeve to go under a lighter jacket or your favorite running tee and you’re good to go. When those times come, it helps to have a go-to long sleeve that wicks moisture away from your body (this keeps your body from being overheated, but also from being chilled from wearing a wet shirt) and is comfortable for faster runs as well as slower, longer ones.
My go-to is surprisingly from a brand I’ve only ever found at Marshall’s (Hind) and boy do I love this shirt. I wear it in the dead of winter as well as when the seasons are transitioning from warmer to colder and from colder to warmer temps. It was a cheap buy, but one of those rare gems that you are so proud of yourself for finding!
I never used to wear a light when running, but that’s because I didn’t need one. I could run my 3-5 miles in the daylight no matter the time of day and keep it during daylight hours. Nowadays, a long run can have me taking off before the sunrise or have me still trekking through when the sun starts to set or after it’s already dipped below the horizon. Just as you get annoyed when a car doesn’t have its lights on when driving, so too do drivers get annoyed and downright angry when they don’t see you because you have no reflective gear or lights. Safety is important. Purchase a light and/or good reflective gear. There’s really not much of an excuse, especially if you are a runner of the darkness. This light by Nathan cost me $10 at a local running shop (Foot Traffic) here in Portland. It clips on to almost anything. It’s light and doesn’t bounce. And it has a bright still-light and an option to have it strobe.
Gear up and enjoy the winter running. Could you tell that I like running with something orange?
Oh, and I figured I’d share my favorite online store for running apparel and gear: www.RunningWarehouse.com