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The Best Tips and Gear for Running in Cold Weather

The Best Tips and Gear for Running in Cold Weather

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As a child, I grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania, where cold winters are no stranger. But following high school, I moved to Florida, where I resided for 15 years. Just recently, I moved back to the frozen tundra that is PA (kidding, as I know there are much colder states).

Being out of the elements for that long, I have not had to even consider the best gear or clothing to wear while running in truly cold temperatures, so I did some research. Here, I will share with you my best tips and suggestions for staying warm during your run, while also considering gear that will keep you warm, but is not overly restrictive.

Tip #1: Dress in layers

The best tip I can give newbie runners for running in the cold is to wear layers. This means socks, compression gear, thermals, and so on. You don’t have to wear the thickest, heaviest clothes possible if you layer properly before you run. How many, and what kind of layers you use, mainly depends on exactly how cold it is when you run, as well as other factors like precipitation and wind chill.

Proper planning prevents poor performance, so remember to properly assess the weather before you decide how many, and what kind of layers you’re going to wear.

Tip #2: Check the forecast

Before you step out the door, make sure to check the local forecast and at least have some idea of what the weather prediction is for that day. This isn’t as critical for shorter runs, but if you are planning on being out for any extended period of time, knowing what weather changes might occur could impact your clothing decisions.

Depending where you live, weather and temperatures could change significantly over a very short period of time. You don’t want to get halfway through a 5 or 6 mile run for a thunderstorm to roll in and you have to finish your run cold and soaking wet. Getting sick will not help you maintain your consistent training schedule.

Tip #3: Wear proper footwear

Whether running in the snow, ice, slush, or wet conditions, wearing proper footwear is key. You not only want to wear something supportive and comfortable, but something that provides proper traction and breathability. You also want to make sure that your feet remain dry, as freezing temperatures mixed with wet socks are a recipe for frostbite. You also want to make sure to choose performance socks that adequately cover your ankle.

Tip #4: Don’t wear cotton

This one is short and to the point. Simply put, cotton absorbs moisture, and moisture is not your friend when running in the cold. Lean towards gear that is moisture-wicking instead of cotton.

Tip #5: Properly warm-up before running

Just like any other workout, it is critical to warm-up before running in the cold. You want to get your muscles, joints and tendons warmed up before running in cold temperatures. I prefer to loosen up my arms, ankles, shoulders, knees and legs before I even step foot outside. After simply loosening up, you can do some jumping jacks, bodyweight squats and/or pushups to get your blood flowing properly.

Once outside, I like to do a 2-3 minute brisk walk into a light jog, prior to beginning to run. Once I start to run, I prefer to keep my pace to where I’m able to hold a conversation without too much difficulty. Running in the cold will definitely take some getting used to, and it can be a bit of an adjustment for your lungs if you aren’t used to breathing in the cold air.

Just like anything, take your time and ease your way into it. Your body will begin to adapt, but it will likely take a few times out, so don’t give up!

If you are wondering what you should eat before running you can check out the article that I wrote here.

To summarize, here are the best tips for running in cold weather:

  1. Dress in layers
  2. Check the forecast
  3. Wear proper footwear
  4. Don’t wear cotton
  5. Properly warm-up before running

Best Cold-Weather Gear Recommendations

When running in the cold, gear selection is very important. There is a wide-variety of every type of gear imaginable, so you need to make sure to do your research, and select gear based on your specific needs, and for the terrain and environment that you will be running in.

Thermajohn Long John Thermal Underwear

Thermajohn Thermal Underwear

We chose these thermal underwear as they contain no cotton and are moisture-wicking. They also feature 4-way stretchable material, so they are great for running, or any other physical activity. They come in a variety of colors and are priced very reasonably. These are a must-have for any cold-weather runner!

Hoka Challenger ATR 6 

Hoka Challenger ATR 6

The Hoka Challenger ATR 6 is an all-terrain shoe that has been reported to be effective in a variety of elements, as well as on trails and on the road. They are breathable, provide protective cushioning, and they feature 4mm, spaced, zonal lugs, which provide for solid traction, even in wet, slippery environments. They also look great and come in a variety of cool colorways.

When combined with a thicker, warm running sock, these will keep your feet warm, even in fairly cold conditions. If you are running in below freezing temperatures though, you might want to look into one of their GTX options, which are Gore-Tex and waterproof.

Buttons & Pleats Merino Wool Thermal Socks

Buttons & Pleats Merino Wool Thermal Socks

When running in cold weather, the right socks are almost as important as your shoes. Wool socks are highly recommended, as they don’t retain moisture like cotton socks. These socks will keep your feet warm, while also wicking moisture.

They feature a reinforced heel and toe, arch compression, a no-slip cuff to ensure they don’t slide down on you, and also have natural temperature regulation.

Under Armour Heat Gear Compression Leggings

Under Armour Heat Gear Leggings

These are a must-have and an OG in the compression/cold-weather running gear game. Your running gear is only going to be as effective as your base layer, and Under Armour is as tried and true as it gets.

These compression pants are quick-drying while also wicking sweat. They are super light and also have mesh panels for maximum ventilation.

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