Running can be an enjoyable way to stay active and maintain all the great progress you achieved in the warmer months of the year. Wearing the right clothing and investing in a few critical cold weather running items will ensure you don't slow down when the sub zero weather hits.
Below is my head to toe recommendations for making sure you keep running this winter. It is important that I warn you of my Nike obsession before we get started. I'm not sponsored by Nike and I don't pretend to totally understand all the technology but I was a Nike Marketing Professional for years and have a certain love and respect for their product that is hard to shake, especially when it comes to running and training gear.
Head: Invest in a headband for cooler weather and a hat for sub zero freezing weather. Dry-Fit technology will help keep you dry from your sweat (nothing worse than a damp head) and wool help keep you nice and warm. A lot of our heat escapes from our head so if you can keep the heat in, the rest of your body will stay warmer.
Face/Neck: Neck warmers and/or face guards will protect your face from wind burn and frost bite. I generally grab whatever my kids have available for me to borrow or buy one reserved especially for those extra cold days.
Torso: This is where layers become very important.
- Long Sleeve Undershirt: I love running in Nike Pro HyperWarm. My former Nike colleagues would cringe to hear it (training gear vs. running gear) but the product is outstanding in keeping me nice and warm on my cold runs. Nike Pro HyperWarm technology combines sweat-wicking thermal fabric which keeps you dry and warm without overheating.
- Down Running Vest: The best investment I made a couple years ago is the Nike Aeroloft Running Vest. It is very light weight and keeps you nice and toasty because of the body-mapped down clusters which are strategically placed for extra warmth without bulk, so you can move freely.
- Jacket: Buy a jacket that acts as a shell against the wind to keep the cold out. You don't need a bulky or heavy jacket to keep you warm if you have the right layers (listed above) on.
Legs: Similar to my long sleeve top I personally prefer to wear Nike Pro HyperWarm tights which are designed for training (like an early morning boot camp outside) but I feel very comfortable running in them. I've been outside in weather as cold as -42 with the windchill and was fine with these tights. Some runners prefer a proper running tight because they offer and extra layer (shield) of support against the wind and wet snow.
Socks: I always wear knee high compression socks in the winter to provide an extra layer of warmth agains the cold. Some runners prefer to run in regular socks and I believe as long as your skin is covered you'll be warm.
Shoes: There are a variety of running shoes available for you to choose from and I could write an entire blog on the importance of choosing the right shoe for running. If you are new to running, I strongly recommend you go to your local running speciality store (Running Room is a good option) and have them analyze your gait and suggest a shoe right for you. I personally love the Lunarglide running shoe because it gives me the stability and cushioning support my arch needs. It's also available in a water resistant version which will help keep your feet dry in the slush.
Hands: Always wear gloves or mitts when you are running. It's a very personal preference and trial and error are your best option to see what keeps your fingers warm.
Be Seen: It is very peaceful running in the winter when everyone is inside hibernating and you are mostly alone. As it gets very dark quickly each evening and takes forever to get light in the early hours of the morning so it is important that your gear have reflective elements to it. If you find yourself in all black, make sure you buy a sport reflective vest.
Running Partner: Investing in a running buddy will keep you extra motivated during the colder days when you don't feel like leaving the house. It is much more difficult to wimp out on a run when you having someone waiting for you. Set a weekly run date and stay committed, even when you don't feel like it. The only workout you'll ever regret is the one you don't do!
Happy (and warm) trails!