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Nov 18, 2012

What I wear for cold weather running

10 miles today.  Ran on the Paint Creek Trail with my two running buddies.  Not too cold this morning but it sure was foggy.  The trails sure look different as winter comes.


I know many of you run in the cold weather and probably know this information.  For those of you in warmer climates who have moved to colder climates or those that are thinking of running outside this Winter, this is what I wear to stay running all year in any weather.  When I mean any weather, I have not run on the treadmill since March 2011.  I've run in some brutal weather but I prefer it over the treadmill.  I have to say that we did not have a bad Winter in Michigan last season so I got away pretty easy.  In fact, we had a great one since it was warmer than usual, but there were days that it was still cold outside.
As you can see, Jacket, shirt, gloves, hat, tights, lights, ID, garmin, waterbottle, iPod, etc
Lot's of additional clothing you need for winter running but it all keeps you comfortable.
It also adds about 10 minutes onto getting ready.
Here's a list of what I use regularly:

Socks - I wear socks specific to the weather.  Usually they have some kind of wool blended into them which helps keep my feet warm.  I'm not talking big, bulky, thick socks.  I'm talking about wool running socks.  This is one of my main items in Winter that helps me stay comfortable on a run.  I just did the review on these.
Wool - it does your feet some warmth! Ha!
Gloves/Mittens - I wear gloves to about 30-35 degrees and then when it gets colder, I switch to either mittens or gloves with a pull over mitten.  Either one helps to keep your hands warm.  I actually prefer mittens(like below) because my hands stay warmer.  All the gloves I have also have nice fleece to wipe your nose.  I know - gross but necessary in winter.  I also have four pairs of gloves since I only wear them once and wash them after each run.
Gloves or mittens
Hat - I always wear a winter beanie when running in the cold.  I've got a couple from Nike, one from Saucony and a Headsweats hat.  You really need at least a few because you still sweat in them quite a bit and need to change them at each run.  I use it once and wash it.

If I could recommend anything that will make your run more comfortable in the Winter - Socks, Gloves and a hat are the three biggest differences if my run is a good one or not.  As long as my feet , hands and head are warm, I could run outside as long as I do in the summer.

Balaclava Mask - I don't wear this often.  It really has to be 10 degrees or colder out and it does not get that cold that often here but I do wear it occasionally.  It also can be difficult to run with it on(like below) so I don't always have it over my mouth.
I call it my Ninja Run; if you keep up with me, I'll have to kill you.
Tights - I typically wear fitted tights and not compression(although I have a pair of compression too).  The fitted tights tend to keep me a little warmer since there is some air between me and the tights.  While you could also wear running pants, I don't like the feel of them when running.  I've never had a issue wearing one layer for my legs no matter how cold the temperature is outside.  I've been out down to minus 10 degrees with no issues.

Tops - I usually wear a fitted top as well that is made for winter running.  My two favorites are made by Nike and Under Armour and they have lasted for several years.  They are expensive but worth every penny.  If it gets colder than 20 degrees, I usually will wear the fitted top with a long sleeve race shirt as well.

Jacket - I run with one of two North Face running jackets.  One is the Apex Climateblock Jacket.  This will be the third Winter using it and it still looks like new.  Wind and weather proof(not water proof but resistant).  I also run with another North Face Windstopper Jacket but it's not as warm as the Apex Climateblock(and not as costly either)  If it's in the high 30's, I also have a Better than Naked North Face light jacket.  You need a jacket for the severe weather in Winter.  Occasionally, when it's really cold, I put on a fleece top over the jacket like in the picture above.
North Face Apex Climateblock jacket - very reflective
(at 5am - I'm tired) 
North Face Wind Stopper
Turns into a vest also which is nice
Shoes - For 95% of my runs in Winter, I just wear regular running shoes whether they are road shoes or trail shoes.  Trail shoes come in handy sometimes when there is lots of snow out.  I also have a pair of Goretex trail running shoes as well but I don't wear them all the time and most people can get by without Goretex but they do keep your feet warmer.  Also, I sometimes put duct tape on my shoe opening to help keep the wind out(under 15 degrees)
Salomon trail running shoes with Goretex - warm but expensive and heavier
Yes, it looks like crap but works well when it's really cold and windy
It also lasts several runs too(and I only use it at 5am so nobody sees it)
Many people fear the fierce weather in the Winter to run, but I enjoy it as long as I'm properly dressed.  If I have the right clothes on(who said our sport was cheap?), I could run forever in bad conditions.  I actually prefer Winter many times over even spring and fall since it snows instead of rains and I'd much rather run in snow.
Proof I run in the cold - it was 10 degrees this day at Stony Creek
(My running buddy T abandoned me; no show - too cold)
Here's what you miss in Winter when you're on the treadmill.(Stony Creek)
Is there anything you do special when running in Winter?

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. Love your blog! Thank you for all the reviews and advice, it's great for new runners like me.

  2. I have a whole section in my cupboard for winter running gear although our winters are warm compared to yours. The mornings do dip below freezing a few times each winter. Have a good week!