Winter is definitely coming, and for those of us who live in areas that get cold and snowy, it’s time to dig out the winter running gear. When I lived in South Carolina I didn’t have to worry about very cold and icy conditions, but after spending a few winters back in the Midwest, I’ve compiled a list of my top winter running tips.
Dress in Layers
Most runners who have run in chilly weather know that in order to be comfortable in the middle of a run, you should feel cold at the start of a run. However, if you start a longer run in the morning, as the temperatures climb, you may find that you’ve overdressed. You can always tie a jacket around your waist if you warm up in the middle of the run. My personal favorite is the quarter/half zip shirt–you can easily open the zip for extra ventilation.
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Wear Moisture Wicking Material
Cotton is a big no-no when it comes to winter running. Cotton holds on to moisture for a much longer time than moisture wicking material, keeping it close to the skin and ultimately keeping you colder. Wear either synthetics or wool, especially as your base layer.
Get Wind-Blocking Gear
When it’s really cold and windy, nothing beats apparel and accessories with wind-blocking material. Often it’s the wind that makes you colder than anything, so utilizing those wind-blocking panels will keep you much warmer when the temperatures really dip.
Mittens are Warmer than Gloves
If your hands get really cold on cool weather runs, consider using mittens instead of gloves. The mittens allow warm air to stay between fingers, ultimately keeping them warmer than gloves. There are also some glove/mitten hybrids for runners out there–gloves that have a wind-blocking layer that you can pull over the fingers to effectively turn them into mittens.
Make Sure Your Shoes Have Plenty of Grip
If you’re running in snowy or icy conditions, be sure that you’re running in a shoe that has plenty of tread so that you don’t slip. I even will run in trail shoes on packed snow, which I find give better grip than a standard running shoe in snow. Other options include Yak Traks, which you put on the bottom of the shoe for extra grip, or even putting short screws into the bottom of an old pair of shoes. Just be careful if you’re going the screw route–adding the screws under the toe of the shoe will lower the heel-toe drop of the shoe somewhat, so you can get a lot of calf or shin pain if you transition too quickly.
Cover Your Nose and Mouth
When it gets really chilly, consider using a neck gaiter or balaclava to cover your nose and mouth. It’s not a lot of fun having to breathe through a piece of fabric, but the cold, dry air can really irritate your throat and lungs. I personally use a neck gaiter, which I like because it’s easy to slip off if I warm up, or back on if I hit a windy spot.
Do you have any winter running tips?
When it gets cold, do you brave the conditions or hit the treadmill?
What’s your top piece of winter running gear?