5 Important Pieces Of Clothing For Running In The Cold

By: Jessica Reyes |

If you have a gym membership or a treadmill at home, great–you have the option to run indoors anytime. But, if you’re like me and get your regular dose of cardio outside, it’s likely your routine drops along with the temperature. And the challenge of getting your fitness back on track becomes a whole other issue. The main complaint of running in the cold is discomfort, which is completely understandable, because nobody wants to be in pain during a workout. Believe it or not the dreaded cold can easily be conquered with some simple clothing adjustments. Here are some essential pieces of clothing for running in the cold to help you brave the winter elements anytime.



1. Layering

First thing to think about: layering. Tank top and shorts weather is long gone, and you’re going to need to break out the long sleeves or a running jacket. However, it’s easy to overdo or underdo the selection of layers. Either you’re shivering at the start of your run, or you’re fine until the midpoint and then realize you want to die underneath your pile of sweatshirts.

Let me tell you about the 20 degree rule. Generally, you should dress like it’s 20 degrees colder than the actual temperature because your body will heat up on its own once you start running. Of course, the first few minutes of the run will be chilly; if you’d rather wear the extra layers to avoid the discomfort, you could prepare to either tie the extra jacket around your waist or designate someplace to drop your extra layers once you’re too warm.


2. Footwear

Then, there’s your feet to think about. Some people complain about their toes going numb mid-run or even before they start running (I’ve been there!). The solution can be in your socks. If you don’t already have them, wool socks or synthetic versions of them will keep your feet warmer than regular cotton because of their ability to absorb moisture and insulate.

As for shoes, mesh is the worst kind of sneaker to wear in the winter because the breathable material will easily let heat escape. So, if you have any other kind, those would be better. There are shoes specifically made for colder conditions, but the socks should help a lot already without the need to spend $100+ on new shoes!


3. Face Protection

What about the lung wrenching, dry air? One of my first complaints about winter running was an explainable shortness of breath, but then I also learned that the cold air can actually irritate your lungs. If you’re that kind of person, you might want to invest in a face mask or balaclava. A scarf wrapped around your nose and mouth could also help warm the air before you breathe it in, but it won’t be as stable while you’re running.


4. Head Gear

While on the topic of accessories, another major complaint is cold ears. Ear warmers and headbands tend to be best recommended because they allow for heat to escape from your head better. Some people are fine with the heat that beanies and other hats offer, but if you find that you’re taking your hat off mid-run because of sweating or overheating, a set of ear warmers or knitted headband should do the trick.


5. Gloves

As extremities, hands are one of the quickest parts of the body to get cold. Though some running tops come with thumb holes in the sleeves, you could use gloves or mittens to keep your hands warmer. I would suggest lightweight gloves, maybe even the touchscreen kind–in case you’re also the kind to click between songs on your phone as you run. However, as the temperature dips further and further below freezing, you may want to invest in mittens if thinner running gloves aren’t enough.



As for the winter elements, your main enemy will be the snow. When there’s no snow on the ground, run as if you would at any other time of the year, but be on the lookout for ice. When there is snow on the ground, be smart and cautious. If it’s rather icy, you might want to rearrange your workout schedule or find someplace else in your area where the snow is regularly plowed. Running on the snow is possible, but you’ll be forced into lower strides and you all around slower pace. If you’re that determined to run even through a snow storm, a pair of Yak Trax can be very useful. Whether your looking to get comfortable running in colder than normal conditions or taking on the winter apocalypse, a little bit of planning on your clothing can go a very long way.