5 wardrobe tips for winter runs
One of the hardest questions a running store employee will hear is, “What do I wear in winter to run?”
There are so many things to consider. Are you hot by nature? Do you like tights? Do you want to be slightly chilly during a run, or do you want to be warm?
These are the types of questions that I’ve asked, but even those won’t give you straight answers. In my 10 years of running, I’m still trying to figure it out, but here are some tips I can give you.
1. Trial and error.
The outside temperature during my first marathon was 32 degrees Fahrenheit. I had no idea what to wear. I had no real running clothes, and no one had given me realistic suggestions before the race. I ran with Wal-Mart gloves, Mizuno tights and a lightweight Nike long-sleeved shirt. Had I been prepared, I would have kept the tights but worn a heavier shirt and thicker gloves.
But that comes with trail and error.
I’ve learned that I like shorts and long sleeves at 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I love running in the snow with warm tights, a light long-sleeved shirt, a heavier jacket, gloves and ear warmers. But it took me a long time to get to that point.
If you are starting out, dress in warmer clothes that way you know that less is better the next time. But it’s always best to dress for 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit above the temperature outside because your body will naturally heat up during the run. If it’s windy outside, dress for 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit lower to factor in the wind chill. And don’t let a little snow or rain stop you; get a water-resistant jacket, and you’ll be able to stay warm and dry.
2. Dress in layers.
In the fall and spring temperatures can go from cold to warm rather quickly, especially with the sun out. For that reason, it’s best to dress in layers.
This is where that light jacket or light hoodie comes into play. I like to use mine when the temp is 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit because if the sun comes out, I can shed the jacket and have a shirt on underneath. It is also a great way to dress for a long run or a race because you’ll be running for an hour or more.
3. Invest in the basics.
Invest, invest, invest! That $90-pair of tights will last you years, especially if taken care of properly.
I know it seems like a lot, but you really need one to two pair of tights, two to three light layers, a heavy vest or jacket, a pair of gloves and a headband. But the pieces I’ve had, I’ve had for about six years, and they still look brand new!
And to make them last as long as mine have? Wash cold with some vinegar and whatever liquid detergent you like and hang dry. If you put them in the dryer, do not add a dryer sheet, as this will clog the wicking pores and ruin your new clothes.
4. Embrace knickers.
Ladies, come to love the knicker length!
You don’t want to wear shorts, but it’s not cold enough for tights, so wear knickers. It’s the perfect length when the temperature is slightly above freezing.
5. Be reflective.
One of my peeves as a runner is seeing someone wearing dark clothes during a night run. You won’t be seen dressing like that and have a high chance of being hit, so grab some lights, a lightly colored jacket and a reflective belt.
My favorite reflective piece is a neon pink jacket that has LED lights on the back and front. I plug it in to a USB port to charge the battery pack, and the charged lights ensure I can be seen at night. The jacket I have is no longer on the market, but there are some available through VisiJax and Asiatic.
I don’t normally wear lights, but there are all kinds -- clip-ons, shoe heels, head lamps and more. One or two is enough, just so that you are visible to cars. If you’ll be running in an area without streetlights, get a head lamp so that you can see what’s in front of you.
How to stay warm and visible this winter while running is a personal preference, but hopefully these tips help you determine what you need when the temperatures drop. Be safe and keep moving!