Winter Running Tips

It’s a perfect winter day as I step outside in my Brooks running shoes. I see my breath as I start to swing my arms and hop around a little. The sun is shining and the brisk air is greeting my cheeks, the only thing exposed to the elements. The cold wakes me up immediately and makes me want to get moving. I turn on some music, start my running app and begin my winter jog. I love running in the winter, it’s my absolute favorite time of the year for a run! Running in frigid temperatures can be tricky and it has taken me a while to get the right clothing and routines to make it enjoyable. So let’s take some time to dig into the best things to wear for a winter run, list out winter running essentials, and discuss some important winter safety tips. I may just get you to love winter running as much as I do!

Winter Running Tips

Winter Running Clothing

Now here’s the thing, I live in Nashville, so when I talk about winter, I am not talking about running in the snow. Keep in mind that running in the snow/ice will need a special kind of shoe with deep tread for grip, or getting some type of clip-on spikes (which I don’t have much experience with). Nonetheless, here are some of my recommendations for what to wear when running in the cold.

Here are my favorite brands: (Some of these are expensive, but it’s worth it to have comfortable, long lasting, good quality gear!)

Base Layer Top: Under Armour ColdGear Shirt
This one has been the trickiest for me to find! But now I just keep buying different colors of this Under Armour ColdGear shirt, because it is warm, breathable, and looks super cute! The key is it must have breathability and wick away functionality. You are running, which means you will start sweating, even if it is cold.
Warm Layer Top: North Face Down Vest
More often than not, I end up just wearing a down vest because it’s an easy on/off and keeps my core warm. It’s lightweight and can even fold into a pocket if you need it to.
Shell Layer Top: North Face ThermoBall Hoodie
I love using this as my outer layer because it is lightweight and can be folded into a pocket if you need to take off layers. I find it helps cut the wind and I also like the hood component on colder days. However, I am not sure how this would stand up in rain and freezing wind. I don’t typically run in those conditions, so you may want to consider replacing it with a windbreaker or rain jacket shell. I like North Face, REI and Kuhl brands for outer shells.

Base Layer Leggings: Under Armour ColdGear Leggings
Yet again with the Under Armour ColdGear for the win! These leggings are super soft on the inside and keep me warm, yet it is breathable and looks super stylish.
Bonus – Leg Warmers: Classic Leg Warmers
When it’s especially cold out, I like to throw on some classic 80’s leg warmers to cover any exposed ankle and top of the shoe. I don’t have a particular brand. I am personally not a big fan of the compression leg warmers, they feel weird and constrictive to me, so I just throw on a classic 80’s look. I say it’s time to bring the leg warmers back ladies!

Socks: Bombas Ankle Sock
I actually stick to the same socks I always use for running, no change for the winter. I like the back of the ankle to have the extra cushion. Just make sure your socks are not cotton, they should be moisture wicking.
Gloves: Nathan Reflective Running Gloves
No particular brand preference, just make sure you have something warm. My gloves are always the first to go in my pockets when I start moving, so no need to spend a fortune unless your hands are really struggling. I have had good experience with gloves that use Gore-Tex.
Headband: Fleece Headband
Again, no real brand preference here. I do find that when I wear a hat, I end up overheating. So instead, I recommend wearing a fleece lined headband to keep the ears warm, but still allow heat to escape from the crown of your head.
Scarf: Neck Warmer
The one I have looks like this, but is an Under Armour brand. I like this one because it can tighten on the face wherever you need, above or below the nose. It keeps me plenty warm and doesn’t collect too much moisture when breathing (however, still taking recommendations on this one).

Winter Running Essentials

Before heading out on your run, keep in mind you may want to pack a few more extra items than normal when running in winter, such as Chapstick and tissues! The great thing is, with all your layers, you should have plenty of pockets to fit it all in. It’s also easy to think you may not need water when it isn’t so hot, however you will want to make sure you are drinking plenty of water. If running longer than 45 minutes, always pack some nutrition, like a GU Energy gel. Finally, if it is a sunny winter day, don’t forget to put on sunscreen and grab your sunglasses! Check out the checklist below for your winter running essentials before you head out:

Winter Run Tip: Warm up inside with your layers on, if you can, before your run. This will help get blood moving and heat circulating in your layers before stepping out in the cold. It’s important to get those muscles warm so you don’t pull any muscles and it will be much faster to do so inside with your layers on.

Winter Running Safety Tips

Icy Roads – While running in winter, always make sure to keep an eye out for the road conditions. Black ice can be very dangerous for runners, because you can’t see it on the pavement. If there is a lot of ice on the roads, avoid running, because one slip can cause serious damage. Assure you have a phone on you or a Smartwatch that can call for help when it detects a fall. When possible, find a treadmill to avoid icy road conditions.

Reflective/Glow Vest Winter means shorter days, which often leads to running in the dark. If you will be running in the dark, please wear reflective or glow gear. Personally, I love my running glow vest, it’s very bright (brighter than anything reflective) and I feel very confident I am seen in it (plus there are so many color options it’s kind of fun!).

Overheating – Drink plenty of fluids and dress in layers to avoid overheating. One of the biggest mistakes to make in winter running is overdressing because you are dressing for how you feel now, instead of how you will feel 10 minutes into a run. Try warming up in all your layers inside so you don’t feel inclined to overdress.

Frostbite – Cover yourself up, especially on windy days. Keep gloves and face masks on while running and maybe put a layer of Vaseline on exposed areas before heading out.

I am always up for trying out some new brands for my winter runs, what are some of your favorite winter running clothing brands? Comment below or leave me a message!

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