How to Dress for Success (In the Cold)

As a runner living in New England, you get to experience scenic runs in perfect weather conditions on cool autumn days. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you unfortunately have to deal with negative degree temperatures and blizzard-like conditions in the winter. Despite this extreme, you can still get outside and get your workout in — if you’re dressed properly. The point of this blog post is to give you an overview of how to prepare for running in weather below 30 F or in the snow.

The key to running in the cold is layering. For temps in the 20-30 degree F range, we recommend that you start with a long-sleeve drifit-type shirt (even cotton will do but it won’t wick away the sweat) and then throw on a pullover, like the one below, or a wind resistant running jacket, over it.

For bottoms, a thick running tight or wind-protecting pant will do the trick (with shorts underneath). At these temps, hat and gloves are a must and need to be somewhat insulated. A super light material won’t cut it in these temps. One note here is that you should be a little bit chilly when you start your run. If you’re warm when you start, you’ll likely overheat. What you’re dressing for is being comfortable once you’re 10-15 minutes into your run.

When the temps start to get under 15 F and much below, you’ll simply want to add an extra layer of protection. For a top, start with a long or short sleeve drifit, add a pullover (like the one above), and then top that off with a wind-resistant jacket. For bottoms, tights with running pants over them should do the trick. Given the extreme cold, you may want a neck warmer or even a balaclava (pictured below). You’ll also need a pretty thick pair of gloves and socks to keep your extremities warm. Top this off with a regular winter running hat and you’ll be good to go.

One caveat to all this is that you have to find what works for you. The guidelines above are a great place to start from, and you should “layer up” or “layer down” based on what is most comfortable for you. There will always be people that defy logic. I had a friend in college that would run in half-tights and a long-sleeve dri-fit no matter how cold it got. We’re talking 10 degrees in some cases. Whether it was a pride thing or a chemical imbalance in his brain, I don’t know, but he was always out there dressed the same…

The other thing you need to be prepared for is when there is snow on the ground or it is currently snowing. You should try to stick to running on roads that you are very familiar with. Potholes, branches, or other debris can be hidden in these conditions, and you don’t want to trip. There are also a number of products out there including YakTrax, Ice Spikes, and Ice Trekkers, that you either screw into or wrap around your shoes to give you better traction. There are even sprays out there that can waterproof your shoes. If you plan on doing a lot of snow running or winter trail running, these are a must.

We hope that the above post provided a good jumping off point for how to dress for winter running. Please keep checking back for more running tips and running-related articles. If you have a topic that you’re particularly interested in and want us to write about, please e-mail your idea to kerouac5kreg at gmail dot com. Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *