I am new to cold weather running. My previous running has been in Southern California where a “cold” run is anything under 50 degrees, so moving to Colorado has been an adjustment. If you are new to cold weather running or new to running in general, here are some tips for running during the next couple months. We all have different sensitivity to temperature, so experiment to see what works for you.
Layers, layers, layers. Layers are much more comfortable than one thick piece of clothing. Plus, there are times when it warms up. Layering allows you to strip as you warm up.
Guidelines for Tops:
- temps in the 40′s– long sleeve shirt. A lightweight jacket might be appropriate if there is a breeze. I like to wear my Sugoi jacket that has removable sleeves that stash in the back pocket.
- temps in 30′s– two long sleeve shirts. I like one of them to be a thicker shirt. One of my favorites is a Golite thermal top. Again, a light jacket might be necessary as well.
- temps in the 20′s–two long sleeve shirts with one definitely being a thicker fleece or outerwear material.
- temps in the teens–two long sleeve warmer shirts and a light jacket. One of my favorite layers is my Brooks Infiniti Hoodie. The hood fits closely around the face and there is a ponytail hole to keep it close to the head.
- temps in single digits or below–two long sleeve warm shirts and heavier jacket. I like my Spyder Core Sweater. It is warm and a little heavier, but is very breathable.
Guidelines for Bottoms:
- temps in the 40′s– capris or lightweight tights, depending on the person. I have raced in shorts in these temperatures, but on regular low-intensity runs, I prefer having my thighs covered.
- temps in the 30′s– regular weight running tights.
- temps in the 20′s– heavier running tights or tights with a base layer. I have a pair of Pearl Izumi tights that keep warmth in and wind out.
- temps in the teens– base layer and heavy/warm tights.
- temps in the single digits or below– base layer, heavy tights and a third top layer. I have worn yoga pants or fleece sweats over the top of my running tights during super cold runs.
Find a buddy to run with. During the winter, there are fewer daylight hours. Going out in dark or nearly-dark when it is cold is much more difficult mentally. Having someone to run with gives you something to think about other than the cold.
Gloves are key. I often start out 50 degree runs with lightweight gloves. I can stash them in a pocket later if I warm up. I have worn short sleeves with gloves before. I hate cold fingers! Thicker gloves are critical in the lower temperatures. My go-to gloves are my Pearl Izumi Lobster Gloves– super warm!
Cover your face. Use a buff or a scarf or a balaclava to cover your face on super cold days. Honestly, I haven’t found the perfect thing. Either they fall down too much or they make me feel claustrophobic. However, it is hard not to cover when the temperatures drop.
Wear a hat. When it is just chilly, an ear-warming headband will suffice. There is a myth that you lose most of your heat through the head. Even if this isn’t true, it is important to keep all exposed areas covered. And really, I just feel warmer all over when I am wearing a hat.
Don’t forget your feet. Smartwool socks are nice to keep them warm, but honestly, they don’t do that much better than regular thicker running socks. I have a pair of shoes that are a half size bigger than my regular running shoes to fit two pairs of socks for those colder days.
Warm your core before going outside. If you have the opportunity, jog in place, run up and down the stairs or spin a few minutes on a stationary bike. I find that when I go out after sitting at my computer, it takes me longer to warm up.
Realize that you will be cold for the first mile or so. But you will warm up. If you dress to be warm those first few blocks, you will end up too warm.
Don’t forget to hydrate. Just because it isn’t hot outside doesn’t mean you aren’t getting dehydrated. It is tough to remember to drink water and carrying it during a long run is difficult. I still can’t figure out how to keep my water from freezing on long runs in these temperatures.
With the right preparation, there is no reason to stay inside when the mercury falls. What are your cold weather running tips?