Cold Weather Running Tips

It’s the most wonderful time of year.. but not so much for outdoor runners. It’s dark until late morning and the sun sets by early evening. The temperature’s dropped and there’s snow, making your route slippery. You could always solve this by running on the treadmill, but it’s just not the same, is it? Luckily, when I used to work at a specialty running store, I learned that there are some workarounds to make running outside in these conditions much more enjoyable.

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First things first: how do you dress to stay warm without overheating? This depends on how long you’ll be out there. More than 20 minutes? Dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer outside. You’ll be cold at first, but as your body heats up you’ll be comfortable. Less than 20 minutes? Dress for the temperature on the thermometer, since your body won’t have as much time to heat up. Of course, this is a guideline–if you tend to run hot or cold, adjust according to your personal needs.

Some of my favorite cold-weather clothing lines are Mizuno’s Breath Thermo and Icebreaker’s Base Layers. Breath Thermo heats up as you sweat, keeping you warm and dry on your coldest runs–without a lot of layering. Icebreaker’s base layers are high-quality merino wool, keeping you warm and dry in cold weather, but also cool and dry in warm weather. Merino sheep live in New Zealand mountains, a climate that ranges in temperature from -4 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The fabric is also extremely lightweight and soft (not the first thoughts that come to mind when you hear “wool”). And as an added bonus: it doesn’t smell. You could wear it for weeks straight and it wouldn’t produce an odor (although you might..).

Moisture-wicking gloves and ear covers are also key to staying warm and comfortable. For headwear, Buff makes a great choice since it has many uses and comes in fun patterns. I haven’t found the ideal gloves yet, but technical materials hold up better than gloves you’d shovel in. If anyone has great gloves for someone with Reynaud’s, please comment below!

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And for additional safety gear: what’s best for lighting your way, staying seen, and not slipping? A good headlamp can light your way you and help drivers see you. Pair it with a few pieces of reflective gear and additional light-up gear to grab the attention of drivers. A set of yaktrax attaches to the bottom of your running shoes for additional traction when running on trails or unplowed roads.

Do you run outside in the cold/dark? What tips do you have?

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