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How to dress for winter running

If winter is coming (or is already here) to your running scene, never fear, here are some ideas on how to dress appropriately to stay warm and still enjoy that run. Props to those that can stand the treadmill (aka “dreadmill”), but I’m not one of them. Plus, there’s too much great scenery to take in on a winter wonderland run.

In general, all synthetics and wools are good (This also applies for non-winter running). Merino wool (Smartwool, Icebreaker, etc) seem to be the best insulating (pricey, but durable and last at least few runs before they really get gross and need washing) layer for me. Here are some examples of merino pieces.  Other tech-materials, such as polyester, nylon, polypropylene, acrylic, and spandex are just some of the other types of synthetic materials that are good as well.

I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up. I have some of those shoe-covering things for icy conditions (like Yaktraks, but a different brand) but I rarely use them. They’re pretty cumbersome and feel weird and most of the time are pretty much overkill. I received them as hand-me-downs otherwise I probably wouldn’t have even tried them.

Soon as it gets even remotely cool I go for wool socks, and there are different thicknesses depending on how easily your feet get cold and the temperature itself. Here are a few examples.

I go with shorts until it gets into the mid to low 40’s but that’s personal preference and how easily you get cold. Thin polyester tights will probably work most of the time, then maybe something thicker such as these once it gets really cold. Sometimes I even layer my tights if it’s super cold, but most people may just opt to not run if it’s below zero… it’s your choice, but you can still be cozy and comfortable in colder temps.

It is definitely worth investing in some synthetic underwear for running (not just in winter)–they’ll stay warm and comfy even once they get sweaty. Here are some fine examples. These too are okay to use at least a couple times (if only used for working out) before needing to wash.

As for your upper body, again go with what’s most comfortable for your needs. When it’s just slightly cool, a polyester short sleeve t-shirt with a polyester long sleeve shirt over may be sufficient. When It gets cooler, add a wool layer in the mix. Even colder (or windy/rainy/snowy/etc)? Add a jacket!

As for accessories, wear what you need…gloves, mittens, hat, face mask, etc. Guys, protect yourself from nipple chaffing on the longer runs. Also, keeping the icy wind off your neck and face with something like a neck gaitor or balaclava (face mask) can go a long way to keeping you comfy!

Definitely experiment with different combinations to see what keeps you comfy. Take a layer off once your warm up, or have an extra available for into the wind vs. when the wind is at your back. Winter running is just as wonderful and fun as any other month when dressed appropriately!

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