We may have our sights set on spring, but no matter how much I will warmer running weather to come my way, the mornings are still brrr-inducing. Guessing that I’m not alone in my running-in-the-cold reality, we thought we’d—with the help of the fitness experts at Life Fitness—share some easy tips for running in cold weather. Read on for how to properly bundle up before that winter run!
Tips for Running in the Cold
You don’t have to skip your outdoor cardio workouts when the winter weather blows in—but you do have to dress appropriately. Try this multi-layer system to stay comfortable during most cold-weather workouts.
Inner Layer: The fabric next to your skin should be lightweight, snug-fitting and able to wick perspiration. Check out sporting goods stores for undershirts made of synthetics or acrylic designed for this purpose. Avoid cotton, which absorbs moisture, stays wet and clings to your skin. Brrr!
Middle Layer: This is the insulation layer, which should also wick moisture and provide warmth. Choose a slightly thicker fabric that fits loosely over your inner layer to trap the air warmed by exercise-generated heat. Fabrics like micro fleece and thermal work well.
Outer Layer: Like a protective shell, this layer shields you from wind, rain and snow. Try a nylon jacket or a wind jacket made of waterproof material. Hooded jackets are nice for protecting your head from the elements, as well.
Pants: On colder days, layer nylon tights or leggings under your pants to insulate your legs. If it’s raining or snowing, choose tights or running pants made of synthetics that pull moisture away from your skin.
Hat: A hat keeps your body heat from escaping, which will keep you warmer. In fact, at least 40 percent of body heat can be lost through the head. If the weather isn’t terribly frigid but your ears get cold, try an ear band.
Gloves or Mittens: Again, keeping extremities warm can help keep your whole body warm. Mittens are a great option because your fingers work together to build up heat and keep you the warmest. Disposable hand warmers can be found at most sporting goods stores for those very cold days.
Neck Protection: Scarves, neck-gaiters or a ski mask can really help make you comfortable when the wind-chill is brutal. Bring one along to wrap around your neck.
Socks: Socks are important. Choose socks made of a Dri-Fit or wicking fabric to keep your feet warm and dry; smart wool is also a great option in the winter. Cotton socks will hold sweat, create blisters and possibly cause feet to feel numb.
Feet Warmers: Try toe warmers in your shoes by placing them on the top of your feet, not on the bottom. If you place them under your feet, they can irritate and cause a burning feeling because you constantly place pressure on them as you run or walk. You can also try thermal insoles, like 3M Thinsulate Thermal Insoles, that provide a multi-layer barrier to help keep feet warm and dry for activities like camping, hiking, skiing or running. Thermal insoles aren’t cheap (almost $60), but the patented foam in the bottom layer absorbs shock, provides energy return, wicks moisture and includes additional antimicrobial technology to inhibit odor-causing bacteria. Perfect for those with tootsies that get cold fast.
How many winter running warriors do we have out there? What’s in your multi-layer system for running in the cold? —Jenn