How to Dress for Cold Weather Running

With the exception of some hardcore runners, the majority of people living in a four-season climate inadvertently wind up as three-season runners year after year…regardless of New Year’s resolutions. Keeping that resolution, staying in running shape for spring races, and avoiding the treadmill don’t have to be impossible goals. Sure, the first step is getting out the door. But making sure you get out the door again means staying comfortable during your run by layering correctly for the conditions.

Clothing built with 37.5 Technology incorporates patented particles embedded into the fibers of the clothing. These naturally derived elements capture and release moisture, enabling the layers to respond to body heat as your microclimate changes. In turn, this speeds up the transformation of sweat to water vapor, which means you stay less clammy and stave off the cold sweat that can ruin any winter outing. The more you heat up, the harder the technology in the fabric works to keep your body at the ideal core temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius. Here are some tips for staying comfortable during winter runs with proper layering and clothing choices.

1. Understand the Elements of Layering

A wicking base layer (synthetic or natural) ensures your sweat is turned into vapor efficiently and effectively. Next, you’ll want a lightweight, windproof jacket. This jacket protects from light precipitation as well as the biting wind. Vents under the armpits are never a bad idea, allowing you to dump heat without removing the layer. For truly frigid outings, a slim, insulated vest provides some warmth to your core without adding too much bulk. Fleece-lined tights or running pants leave you with ample range of motion, and wicking socks, lightweight gloves, and a snug cap should round out your winter running outfit for all but the most extreme conditions.

2. Choose an Effective Wicking Base Layer

We all know that cotton is the wrong fabric to wear during high-energy activities, but not all technical base layers are created equal. Pick this next-to-skin layer carefully—it can make or break your system. Base layers incorporating 37.5 Technology, like those made by Rab, have the potential to dry up to five times faster than comparable materials. They also are invaluable in maintaining your comfort during cold-climate, high-exertion exercise. No matter how warm you get during peak exertion, you’ll start to get chilled on the cooldown and during post-run activities. Keeping your microclimate dry and your body at the optimal temperature is crucial for staying comfortable during and after winter runs.

3. Protect Your Core

Your body heat comes from your core. This has a ripple effect on your arms, legs, face, and extremities. Keeping your core warm is essential for any cold-weather layering system, and winter running is no different. It is worth investing in several different top layers: a lightweight wicking base layer, a heavier base option for colder conditions, a windproof or insulated vest, and a windproof shell should all be in your arsenal, ready for any combination based on the weather.

4. Always Include a Layer You Can Easily Remove

This doesn’t have to be a shirt or a jacket—pulling off your hat can feel like the equivalent of losing a layer. If you don’t feel like running with your jacket flapping around your waist, ditch the hat and stick it in a pocket. Similarly effective and far more comfortable. Wear slim gloves designed for running that can be easily removed and thrown in a pocket as well. Finally, look for top layers with lots of zippers for venting. These can help you regulate your temperature without removing the entire layer.

5. Start Cold and Warm Up Fast

Sure, the first half mile will be uncomfortable, but know that you’re going to heat up faster than you think. A good rule of thumb is to consider dressing for weather 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. Getting stuck miles from your house with too many layers (or bouncing jackets wrapped around your waist) is a surefire way to kill the runner’s high.

6. Choose Your Traction Carefully

Whether you crush miles on the trail or the roads, chances are you’ll hit slick spots of ice or packed snow. There are different levels of traction for varying conditions. Know the elements and what to expect on your route before you set out. Traction that fits securely over your shoe comes in varying degrees of depth and intensity. These can be a combination of microspikes and flexible steel coils, designed with the anatomy of a running stride in mind. Think about your running shoes as well: Certain models are built for cold conditions with a rubber outsole that stays supple when the temperature drops. Highly ventilated shoes that are great for summer runs may not be as welcome in the cold weather. Think about getting a pair of all-weather shoes that are not only waterproof but also protect your feet from the wind. A good pair of wool socks, like those using 37.5 Technology from Point 6, will make a world of difference as well.

With the right clothes, running in the winter isn’t just something to tolerate—it’s quite enjoyable. It’s tough to escape the summer heat, but in the winter, regulating your temperature often can be done quite successfully. Don’t be intimidated. Give it a try and you may soon be leaving the treadmill to become a four-season runner.

Written by RootsRated for 37.5.

Featured image provided by 37.5® Technology