running in winter
Earlier this week I mentioned running in winter and a reader asked to know more about the gear or clothing required for that. So I’m taking a break from my regularly schedule bike-centric postings to interrupt with thoughts on running outside in the winter. Because I love running. And I simply do not enjoy it as much on a treadmill as I do outside.
Running outside year round is easy and enjoyable if you have the appropriate clothing. Just like with cycling, a certain amount of accessories (fenders, a basket, a chainguard) can make your experience much more enjoyable. When it comes to running, those winter must-haves (for me) are a good running jacket, a pair or two of running tights, and good gloves, socks, and a hat.
I basically wear the same thing all winter long; a variety of base layers with my trusty running jacket on top. This running jacket is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It’s an Under Armour running jacket intended for as low as 30 F and meant to be wind and water resistant. It not only keeps the wind and water out, it also does well in much lower temperatures than advertised given a few warm baselayers underneath. I’ve worn it in as low as -10 to -15F temperatures and I was fine. The best part is that it’s so light and slim fitting that I never feel bulky or bogged down while running with it on. (I don’t have a preferred brand for those base layers, I just grab whatever is on sale at REI)
Another worthwhile investment is a pair or two of running tights. They’re much warmer than cotton yoga pants or workout pants as they are insulating and meant to fit closely to your skin, not allowing any air to blow up your pant leg. (I used to layer a pair of running shorts over my tights because that’s what other runners in the Midwest seemed to be doing, but once I got to Germany, I got a lot of funny looks and soon ditched the shorts).
My other winter favorite: my Nike running hat. It’s fleecy and warm and it has a ponytail opening in the back that allows me to pull my braid through, keeping a snug fit for the hat on my head.
Other must-haves: a warm pair (or two) of gloves and wool socks! My favorites are from SmartWool. I always ask for them as gifts because they can be a bit pricey but are very much worth the money. They are thin (non-bulky in your running shoe) and they wick away moisture keeping your feet dry and warm. I would recommend these for anyone cycling through the winter as well. (Mine will be performing double duty this year).
Cycling, running, or walking throughout the winter just takes a bit of figuring out what to wear. I may sound like a broken record, but I’ll say it again: there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. And it’s a shame to spend the months of November through March indoors and miss so much of what winter has to offer when all it takes is a bit of bundling up. By running through the winter, I got to enjoy beautiful scenery in the Midwest such as this…
And in Germany, I got to enjoy these sights on my winter runs…
Winter running is also very conducive to taking photos along your route because you’ll be wearing a running jacket with pockets! Just slip your point-and-shoot into your pocket and pull it out along the route. All the photos in this post were taken ‘on the run’.
And remember that it gets darker much earlier in the winter, so stick to well lit paths or running trails or opt for a headband light that helps keep you visible if needed. I didn’t wear a light in Germany because the city was usually lit up and full of pedestrians and other runners, but I do wear one on occasion here in the Midwest. I also add a flashing neon collar to my dog’s regular collar to make her more visible to others. And on long runs, I love to listen to the Run Run Live podcast. (I subscribe on iTunes). Chris, too, runs year round with his dog, Buddy, and he motivates me to keep going no matter what. He also features great interviews and product reviews that help keep a runner informed and entertained. Just FIY.
I haven’t needed to use YakTrax but I’ve read that other runners swear by them. In the winter, I just tend to run slower and with more awareness of my footing and, yes, I have taken a spill or two on ice each year. I look for steets and trails that have been cleared or for big fluffy snow that isn’t slippery. Running through a few inches of snow is akin to running on sand – a killer workout and surprisingly fun. It’s reminiscent of being a child and wading through knee high snow to make a snowman or to drag a toboggan up a desired hill. Definitely puts a smile on your face!
If you run or cycle though the winter and have something you just swear by using, please share your tips and advice in the comments section!