Written by Carlie Grabenstein
The best running gear for cold weather most importantly fits the type of cold weather. Is it humid and cold? Is it snowing or raining? Is it windy? How cold does your body feel? These are the first questions to answer when deciding what to wear before going out for a run on a cold day.
One of the most important concepts to dressing for working out in the cold is having layers. The more effort you put into a workout, the warmer you will be. The warmup and cool down of your workout may feel colder and require an extra layer. Also, especially in Colorado, the weather can change in an instant so, having layers can save your workout if the temperature drops or increases in the middle of it.
Let’s start out very basic. Say you step outside your front door to test how cold it is and the humidity is low but it is still very cold. Remember when you are running, your body will feel roughly twenty degrees warmer than the listed temperature. However, if you are jogging slower, this number decreases to about 10. To stay comfortable during your run, keep this in mind. If it’s thirty degrees and dry, dress as if it were fifty degrees. My favorite clothing for this temperature is a long sleeve layer and some shorts. If it dips below thirty degrees or gets a little more humid, I may change into leggings and add a half-zip layer on top of the long sleeve because it feels a lot colder the more humid it is. A half-zip is a stretchy synthetic fabric layer that had long sleeves and a zipper that zips about half way down the chest and it must be pulled over the head to be worn. I like these a lot because the stretchy elastic fabric is light weight and helps you avoid chafing because it is form-fitting.
What if it is very windy? Wind makes it difficult to run because it can push you around if it is strong and it can make the weather feel much colder. A wind breaker is very useful because it doesn’t add much weight or heat to your outfit but will protect from the wind. If you don’t have a wind breaker, an extra layer such a T-shirt, long sleeve, or half zip will suffice but keep in mind it may make you a little warmer, which may cause you to sweat. Since you don’t have the windbreaker to protect from the wind, the wind may start evaporating the sweat which can make you colder. This is most often the case in drier, neutral feeling winds. However, in icy winds, I recommend the extra layer because usually, the icy wind will make it colder, compensating for the added heat.
Snow and rain are very difficult to run in if it is already very cold outside. Some good layers include a long sleeve, half-zip, and a waterproof, insulated layer. This can be a jacket or a coat depending on how cold it is. If it is twenty degrees or lower, I would recommend a coat. It is important to stay semi-dry when running for a long period so you don’t get hypothermia or catch a cold. If these is so much precipitation on the ground that your feet are getting soaked through your shoes, I would suggest using the treadmill or skipping the run for that day. This is also the case if the temperature dips below ten degrees. When it is that cold, the snot in your nose starts to freeze and it can make running very uncomfortable. If running outside in these extreme conditions, try to keep the run short to limit your exposure.
I hope this has helped your understanding and will improve your future runs!