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Winter running doesn’t have to be miserable, but it tends to be when you’re not prepared properly. While running in the summer doesn’t take nearly as much preparation, winter running really shows dedication but also offers an experience many don’t get to have.
If you are ready to get your sweat on in the cold temperatures, then you’re in the right place. I have all the essential gear for winter running right here, ensuring you can partake in the sport all year long!
Benefits of Running in Cold Weather
There are actually plenty of benefits when it comes to running in cold weather. As your body has to put forth more effort to keep you warm, it means that your metabolism is running higher which in turn will burn more calories. If you’re trying to improve your body composition, it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Like many mammals, our bodies are designed to store more fat and preserve the fat we already have over winter. Running in winter is also an effective way to stave off that holiday weight gain and regulate. Many of us also feel a bit down when the sun hides away for the season. Outdoor cardio elevates serotonin levels, keeping us feeling happier and with more energy!
Essential Gear for Winter Running
Base layers are absolutely necessary no matter what type of cardio activity you’re partaking in during colder seasons. These layers are designed to keep you warm while still moving moisture and excess heat away from you to ensure your body temperature is well-regulated and you’re always nice and dry. Just like you wouldn’t go out into the cold with wet clothing from the wash, you don’t want to be wet from sweating as it’s not only uncomfortable but can put your health at risk.
Having a running jacket each time you go out is important, as just a long-sleeved t-shirt is not going to provide enough warmth nor protection from the elements. These jackets are thin enough that you can tie them around your waist if you end up getting too warm, but thick enough that you’ll feel properly insulated. They’re not coats or parkas, but they do get the job done without leaving you a sweaty mess.
If your city gets a lot of moisture, you’ll want a jacket made with waterproof materials as well, which keeps moisture out.
Most of us have had the unfortunate experience of getting headaches from running in the cold. An easy way to combat these is to select a jacket with a hood to keep the wind out. There are plenty of running jackets that come with hoods for you to pull snug to keep cold wind out. Some are even removable so don’t have to deal with it flopping around if that bothers you.
As our legs are comprised of huge muscle groups, they generate heat very well. That means that we don’t really have to bundle up as much as we would with the upper part of our bodies.
Leggings are currently the most popular bottoms for runners, for an array of reasons. One, is that they’re just so versatile. You can choose to wear them alone, with running shorts, or with sweatpants/trackpants over them. This will add a bit more warmth if your weather warrants it.
The biggest sports apparel brands are finding that compression tights are some of their best-selling items in the winter. Not only are they fashionable, but they help boost circulation which can help cut recovery time down and stave away fatigue.
You aren’t stuck to just the full-length leggings, either. Some come in a “pedaler” length that hits in the middle of the lower leg in case you like feeling a bit of coolness. Leggings come in a bunch of different thicknesses and material, though in general they are effective at moving sweat away from the body and offering a nice amount of air flow.
On top of that, I personally love how stretchy and form-fitting they are to my body. They don’t get in the way of my runs at all, nor slow me down against the wind.
Running shorts are the last thing many people think to wear in the wintertime but hear me out. As I mentioned above, our legs do generate quite a bit of heat, and quickly too. Many runners feel like shorts are what they’re used to and they just go with the flow. Not only that, but it allows for optimum range of motion, not restricting your stride in any way. You can wear compression shorts, or the loose, classic versions that many know from high school track already.
Having frozen fingers is one of the worst feelings in the world, and to think it’s so easily avoidable! It’s bad enough just leaving our hands unprotected in low temps but even more so when you’re booking it at high speeds through the cold wind and moisture! Our extremities lose heat surprisingly quickly, so it’s not only painful to have cold hands but dangerous as well.
Instead of all that hassle, just grab yourself a pair of running gloves. They’re made specifically for the occasion, and are thin enough that you won’t feel bogged down by them. Moreover, they work well with touchscreens so you can still listen to your favorite tunes and stay motivated. While they’re grippy and soft, they won’t let your hands get sweaty, instead offering ventilation and moisture-wicking.
Unfortunately, we don’t see quite as many runners wearing running sunglasses in the cooler seasons as we should. If you look and snowboarders and skiers, they wear goggles that are often polarized to keep their eyes protected not only from the wind and snow, but UV rays! Overcast weather is notorious for causing the worst sunburns, and if you are running in the snow, the sun’s rays can also reflect off of it and cause serious eye and skin damage over time.
While the idea of wearing something on your face while running may sound uncomfortable, I can tell you they’re not. The frames are flexible, durable, and lightweight so they actually work with the individual curves of your face and head instead of against it. Most will protect your eyes against both UVA and UVB damage, and I recommend polarized models which block out all horizontal light waves.
Running gear for winter not only consists of clothing, but staying hydrated too!
Running belts are what we had before hydration vests existed, however they’re anything but obsolete. With various water bottle holders and secure pockets to keep electronics and other small items, they’re incredibly useful. Many of the best models come with audio ports and are waterproof so you can keep your music player safe without missing out.
Hydration vests are great if you want something more snug fitting against the body and find running belts too heavy. The first time I used one, I was pleasantly surprised at how “minimal” of a feel they offered, with no chafing to speak of. Instead of carrying water bottles around, you have one slim design that can carry around even more water than you’d be able to with the bottles.
Running in the winter doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or impossible. As long as you follow my guide and get yourself all essential gear for winter running you’ll be in the clear and on your way to a full year of quality runs! I hope this guide was able to fill you in on anything you were wondering about, and that you now know what you need to get for this coming winter season. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon!