One of the first things I do when I wake up every morning is grab my smartphone off my nightstand and surf the hourly weather report for the day. If it is a weekend, I look to see what time of that day will offer the best weather conditions to run outside – when it’s not too hot or too cold. It gets a little bit trickery during the work week. There I must limit my outdoor running options to very early mornings before I head off to work or later evenings when I return home.
Running is one of the most effective exercises with many health benefits. So when Mother Nature does cooperate and provides weather that is good enough for an outdoor run, I grab my running gear and out I go! But as the wind begins to whip up and frigid air sets in, I have to rethink my attire dress accordingly before I head out the door.
Cold weather should not be a hindrance in the pursuit of a healthy and fit body, so proper cold-weather attire is a must to fully enjoy running and its perks. First, one golden rule to remember is you are going to warm up once you get moving. So a good rule of thumb to follow is step outside to feel the weather then dress yourself as if it’s 20 degrees warmer outside than what it really is.
Okay, let’s now go from head to toe of how you should dress for the colder climates. Since you can lose about 40% of your heat from your head on cold days, it’s important to keep it covered and have your ears warm. Wearing a hat made of wool or fleece is best.
When it comes to your face, you might want to consider wearing a balaclava (ski mask) over your mouth and nose to protect your face and warm the air you breathe. Wear sunglasses to avoid sun glare when there’s snow. And be certain to apply an SPF Chapstick or Vaseline to protect your lips from chapping. You can also apply the Vaseline on your nose and cheeks to prevent any windburn and chapping.
To keep your neck warm, wear a wool neck gaiter versus a scarf. You can also raise it up and over your chin to your nose in lieu of a ski mask or slip it off you get too warm or slip it off and thread it through your arm if you feel too warm.
Your upper body should be covered by layers. After a sports bra, I put on a long-sleeve base layer made of wicking material. This keeps the sweat off my skin. If needed, I dress in another warm layer; this time I may add an insulated running or ski top. The last layer is a wind and water proof, soft shell running jacket. I actually have several of these. In extreme cold, you might even find me wearing long john top and my Spyder ski jacket which is light but very warm!
Since as much as 30% of your body heat also escapes through your hands, gloves are another must. They should be windproof and ideally have wool lining to generate the most heat. Mittens work best in extremely cold weather since the fingers are together to generate the most body heat. Sometimes, I even run with my ski glove liners or heat-activated hand warmers.
It’s especially important to keep your legs warm since these are the body parts exerting the most energy. Tights or insulated running pants are ideal and should be made of synthetic material to keep the legs warm. In extreme cold, I add layers which may include both the tights and pants together and sometimes even long johns.
Your socks should be made of a material that keeps away the moisture from your sweating feet while also keeping them warm and preventing blisters, such as wool. When it comes to running shoes, winter ones are now available. I just stick with my regular ones which are comfortable, breathable, and have a great support.
If you do happen to overdress and begin to peel back the layers, just keep an eye out for frostbite when temperatures drop to freezing. Monitor your fingers, toes, ears, and nose. Cold air can also trigger chest pain or asthma attacks in some people, so if you have any concerns before running in the cold, check with your attending physician before braving the cold.
Once you’re dressed in layers, you’re good to go to get out there and have a spectacular run. To me and to many, there’s nothing better than enjoying a good run in crisp weather while also soaking up the sun and endorphin boost.
Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.