Winter Running and Layering Tips

Advice for Braving the Elements and Running Strong All Winter Long

Cold weather doesn't have to put an end to your outdoor running. But running safely in winter takes a little planning to make sure you're dressed right and have the right gear to run safely in the dark.

Here are seven things you need to do to run comfortably—and happily—all winter long:

Wear base layers and tuck them in.

If it’s below freezing, you are going to want to wear two base layers. Make sure they are made from a moisture-wicking fabric, but not cotton, which is slow to dry. If you opt for a base layer (T-shirt or tank top), a long-sleeved top and a jacket, tuck the bottom layer into your tights/running pants for added warmth and wind protection. Also, be careful not to overdress because you'll warm up as you run.

Dress for temps that are 10 to 20 degrees warmer.

Of course, this advice varies from person to person depending on how hot or cold you run. As a general rule, though, you warm up as you move. Finding yourself overdressed, hot, and sweaty midway through a run is almost as bad as underdressing and feeling miserably cold.

Cover your hands.

If you’ve ever been out on a run when your hands get cold and stop functioning properly, then you know the importance of protecting them from the elements. Usually gloves are adequate for temps between 20 and 40 degrees. However, once they dip into the teens, mittens are a better option. Unlike gloves, which leave each finger close to the elements and separate from all the other fingers, a mitten allows for finger-to-finger contact, which keeps the hands warmer.

Wear Wool Socks.

Wool will keep your feet warm even if they get wet. Why? Wool absorbs less water than other materials and acts as a natural insulator.

A man running through snow in the winter

Wear the right jacket.

Insulation and breathability are important. While a windproof outer shell is sometimes necessary in unusually frigid temps, for milder weather the right combination of breathability and insulation is vital. We love the women's New Balance Heat Loft Asym Jacket and the men's Nike AeroLayer Jacket for their versatility in a variety of temperatures. When it’s too warm for a jacket but not cold enough for a single layer, consider wearing a vest to keep your core warm.

Cover your head.

If it's under 50 degrees, consider wearing either a hat, a buff or ear warmers to keep your noggin warm.

Find the right tights.

Single-digit temps call for full-length, fleece-lined tights. You may even consider a second loose-fitting pair of running tights over top. If you’re heading out in temps between 20 and 40 degrees, a regular full-length tight will do. For anything in the 40- to 50-degree range, pull out mid-length or quarter tights (or maybe even shorts).

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