I'm fairly new to running and this will be the first winter I have run through. You can probably see where my question is going from here. If I dress warm enough for the start of my run, I'm melting by the halfway point and feel like leaving my expensive jacket on the side of the trail. If I don't dress warm enough for the beginning of a run, I never seem to get warm and end up being miserable. It's not even winter yet and I can't seem to get it right. What is the secret to running comfortably in the cold weather or is it something I just have to suffer through?
Dear Cold and Alone,
Winter running can be quite an experience, especially in Syracuse. With temperatures ranging anywhere from 50 degrees to 20 below, it's best to be prepared for whatever conditions the CNY weather throws at us. The key to staying comfortable when running in the cold is layering.
A good, long sleeve base layer is something every winter runner should own. It needs to be light and moisture wicking. It should fit close to the body and be comfortable under a jacket.
A good base layer by itself will not keep you warm if you're not moving. Once you start moving, it will help insulate the heat, but a good jacket that blocks the wind will keep us cold weather runners from freezing as we either wait around to start our run, or as we encounter windy, snowy conditions during our run. A moisture wicking shell jacket will also prevent us from getting damp if it is also wet out.
Moisture wicking long sleeve
If the conditions are particularly cold (remember the winter of the Polar Vortex) and extra layers are needed, a long sleeve, moisture wicking tech shirt will help to add an extra layer of warmth. Don't be afraid of feeling too bulky by adding layers. As long as it is the right kind of layer (always avoid cotton), you can stay light and warm.
Tights are like the base layer for your legs. Owning a pair of running tights will ensure a completely covered body when the winter elements are particularly harsh. These can be worn alone or under a shell pant.
Some runners will be comfortable with only tights as a layer for the entirety of winter. When the temps really drop however, going with an added, slightly thicker pant is another option to consider. There are some excellent options when it comes to these outer shell layers. A good shell pants will give you added warmth and decrease the wind and water penetration from extreme cold conditions.
Moisture Wicking Accessories
There are also some things you can wear if you can't stand the wind in your hair or if your hands never seem to get warm enough. Moisture wicking hats, masks, buffs and gloves are available that are made with a runner in mind.
And, the rule of thumb when choosing your outfit for a run: dress as though it's 10-15 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. Once you start moving, you'll warm up. It's ok to feel cold when you start out on your run. There's no need to give up your outdoor running routine during the cold months. Winter can be an ideal season for running - dress right and you'll be able to enjoy the beauty of a winter wonderland while doing what you love.