LOLZLetter 154 | AWESOME Gear For Running Through The Winter
Like many people, it's been cold lately. But that is winter.
When I moved to the Mojave Desert, I didn't anticipate dealing with the cold again. In my head, deserts never get cold. I don't know why I thought that, other than my lack of knowledge. I've lived in various climates, from -30 in Upstate New York to 115 in Texas. Now I live in an area that ranges in temperature from 15-115...plus the wind. I say this not to complain, but to say I am thankful for not getting rid of all of my winter running gear.
Winter running isn't terrible as long as you are layered up. Ice is dangerous, but as long as you take it slow and prepare for the conditions of the run, you should be ok. For instance, don't run a tempo run on black ice. Change it to an easy run and understand it will probably be slower than usual. (or take it to the treadmill...).
If you are wearing the right gear, winter running can actually be fun (?)
What Gear is Good for Winter Running?
You want to find the gear that keeps you warm but allows the sweat to be wicked off your body when you sweat. I'm not being paid if you purchase any of the gear; I find it AWESOME (that’s why I used all caps ha ha). I have current or older versions.
How Should You Dress?
You want to dress as if it's 10-15 degrees warmer than it is. You also want to know your own preferences of how you feel in the cold. Dress how you are more comfortable.
Running on a populated trail in 30 degrees, you'll see people wearing shorts as well as people bundled up like they are climbing Mount Everest. It's whatever feels most comfortable to them.
The basic layering order is:
Base layer: Your underwear, sports bra. Make sure it's breathable.
Base Layer: A thin tank top, short sleeve or long sleeve. You might wear this when it's 50 degrees. I prefer a tank top and have dozens of them. The key is to make sure it's noncotton, so sweat doesn't stick to your body. You can also pair a thin tank top under a thicker long sleeve.
What about Wind? For days when it's 30 degrees and windy, I'll use a thin tank top followed by the wind paneled Heatloft from New Balance.
Vest or Jacket: Vests are great for cold but dry days. They add another layer of warmth.
Jacket: On days it's wet, you may want to invest in a waterproof jacket. I go into more detail (and my hard stance about them) below.
Shorts: Most people prefer shorts down to about 35 degrees. Your legs don't get as cold as your core. Find what feels best for you. I usually wear shorts until around 30-35, then capris or leggings when it gets colder. When it's below 20, I usually wear leggings with brushed fleece.
Leggings and Pants: Finding the right legging or pants is a personal choice. There are plenty of options from thin leggings to leggings with built-in fleece, wind-resistant, and waterproofing; depending on where you live and your tolerance to cold weather, you might want to experiment with that.
Gloves and Mittens: Mittens are warmer than gloves. They make every type of mitten and glove imaginable. A few of my favorite brands include Trailhead and the North Face.
Hats and Headbands: Hats are warmer than headbands, and they make dozens of each of those too. I have hats or headbands in almost every major brand, and they are all good. Right now, my favorite brands are Headsweats headbands and Boco Hats.
Balaclava: If you are running in extreme wind or cold, consider a Balaclava, which will cover almost your entire face. If I still lived in an area that got below zero, I would probably invest in one.
As mentioned for base layers, you want something that dries quickly. The colder it is, the more layers you want. Start with a moisture-wicking tank top, then add more layers as needed. Anything below 40, you'll probably prefer a thin long sleeve top. If the temperature is below 30 or windy, you might prefer a thicker long sleeve.
Thick Long Sleeves: Heat Loft from New Balance
If I feel strongly about anything winter running-related, it's a good rain jacket. Many people say there is "no good rain jacket," which isn't entirely true. Many brands make a water-resistant jacket, but it's not waterproof (see the Brooks Canopy jacket). When you run with a water-resistant jacket, it will prevent rain from coming in for a bit but not forever. If you ran Boston when it torrentially downpoured, you would still get wet.
I've run several runs and races in Gore-Tex where it torrentially downpoured, and my core was still dry. Plus, Gore-Tex jackets are guaranteed for life. Finally, they breathe well too, so you don't get too hot.
So what's the downside?
Water Proof Jackets are more expensive and cost between $200-$300. Very few brands make them because they are expensive to make and sell. But theoretically, you never need a new rain jacket. I've had mine for nearly 7 years now, and it's still in near perfect condition.
Truthfully, I don't really know why people buy $100 rain jackets because they don't work well. Why am I talking about a good rain jacket in a winter gear newsletter? Many of us live somewhere where it does rain at 20-35 degrees. Then to add insult to injury, it's windy on top of that! That is the worst combination of winter running weather, and a good waterproof jacket will make the run *tolerable*.
If you find yourself in that nasty "wintery mix" weather and you need to run outdoors, Gore-tex Jackets are a good jacket to invest in. It's also important to note many brands like Under Armour, Hoka, and Adidas have collaboration jackets with Gore-Tex.
This sounds sponsored, but it's not...I don't know why people waste their money on water-resistant jackets that don't work.
Gloves vs. Mittens:
Many people don't realize that mittens are warmer than gloves. I'm a huge fan of WhitePaw Run Mitts, North Face, and Trailhead to keep you warm. I actually have these Montana Mitts that I bought for frigid days, and I've taken them down to -10. They are tough to run with, but I have done it (you look like you're wearing boxing gloves).
It also amazes me; many people have never heard of "Hot Hands." I usually buy a big package at the start of winter. These small heated packs can add extra warmth.
Your core gets colder faster than your legs, so it's most important to protect your core.
If you are looking for super warm tights, consider a fleece-lined tight or windproof tight.
Other options include fleece-lined from Craft. Craft is known for its warm skiing clothing and makes quality running gear.
The Ground Work Tight from Janji is another favorite. It's warmer than the average tight but not as warm as some thickest options. I find it a great tight for days between 15-30 degrees.
If you are looking for the warmest and weather-resistant pants, consider the Goretex, which is wind-resistant, water-resistant, and lined.
Truthfully if you are running in weather like that, kudos to you.
Anyway, there are a few key takeaways for running in the winter:
Don't be dumb. Running a fast run on ice can result in an injury. Slow down. Accept your run will not be your fastest, and your easy run pace might be a minute or two slower per mile as you navigate running over ice.
Layer up: Winter running isn't terrible if you have the right gear. Even at temperatures below zero degrees, you can still layer up to stay warm or even overheat.
Water-resistant jackets and waterproof jackets are not the same.
What is Keeping Me Entertained?
Athing Mu runs a 4:37 in the women's mile. Her form always looks so smooth.
Ali on the Run Podcast: Brittany Charboneau won all 4 of the Dopey Challenge Races. This was a great listen, and I enjoyed Brittany's mentality about making running fun. She raced all four races in a costume and won all 4 (the first person to do so).
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