Sunday, November 10, 2013

Winter Running Gear

I've received and read a lot of really great advice on what to wear for cold weather runs. Since I'm pretty determined to run a half marathon on New Year's Day (who's crazy idea was that?!), staying warm is pretty important.

Oh, and also, there's the whole fact that I'm from Florida and don't really DO winter. I've gotten better at it over the past 4 years, but I still prefer our other 3 seasons better.

Anyway, so what I've learned so far is: layers. Lots and lots of layers! First, there's your long sleeve tee, then a middle layer like a half-zip fleece, and then a waterproof/windproof outer shell if it's really bad. Plus hats, gloves, insulated socks, and thermal pants. On my last early morning run, it was 10 degrees when I started out. Brr! So I included all the layers I could think of and actually stayed quite warm. Here's a list from head to toe:

Hat: I was going to post a picture, but you all know what a beanie looks like. I don't think any one is better than another. I like longer beanies that you fold up, so then I can put my hair in a bun and the hat still fits like normal.

Base layer: I really like this Under Armour ColdGear long sleeve tee. It's softer on the inside, and a bit thicker than your normal tee. It wicks sweat away, and is nice and snug which is perfect for under layers.
Not exactly the one I have, but same idea

Middle Layer: for this, I've been using two different Columbia half-zip fleece sweaters. I bought mine a few years ago, so the style has changed a bit, but something very similar to this. 
Bright colors are important. You want to be seen!

Outer layer: this layer doesn't seem to be so much about warmth, as it is about weather protection. Sure, one more layer is going to help you stay warmer, but you don't want it to be too thick. Basically you're looking for a shell. I have this exact jacket in green. I would have loved (loved!) pink, but they didn't have it in my size. Sad face :o(
The pink rocks, right?
Pants/tights: Now, your legs are working a bit harder than your core while you're running, so you're not going to need tons of layers here. I'm finding that a good pair of thermal tights is working well. But for really cold temps I may add sweats on top. I have two different brands, but my favorite is the Under Armour ColdGear tights. They have a super soft fleece lining that make them really cozy to get into.
Love love love
Socks: Socks are sooooo important! My feet blister like no bodies business if I wear the wrong socks. You're typical cotton socks are not going to work here! I have some UA socks, I have some Asics socks, but my favorite for winter running are my SmartWool Outdoor socks. They also make a running variety, but the Outdoor have a little extra cushion to them. 
Bonus: no blisters!
Shoes: So far, my everyday running shoes are doing ok because we've not had snow yet. However, I bought these YakTrax running shoe grips for when it gets really bad. I haven't used them yet, but they get really great reviews. 

Safety: Duh, this is important. So listen up! When winter hits, daylight gets pretty scarce. That means, for most runners, running in the dark is inevitable. I've gotten really great advice on this, and my two favorite products by far is my Petzl headlamp and my Amphipod safety vest. I know I am much more visable with both, and I can see with the headlamp too. However, don't take it for granted that drivers are going to notice you just because you're glowing! I nearly had someone run me over at a stop sign because they simply didn't stop when I thought they would, and I'm pretty sure they weren't even looking my way. So be careful!

So there you have it, all you need to know for winter running! Some people use a neck gaiter that you can pull up over your chin and/or mouth. I think this would be helpful in really dry conditions, so you're not breathing in really dry, cold air. Our winter is a bit more humid, I think at least, so this hasn't been a big issue for me yet. I tried wearing the fleece one I bought this morning, and it just got wet from my breath, then cold and frosty. I ended up pulling it down, then my neck got really hot, and I basically wish I hadn't put it on to begin with! But I think it's good to have just in case. 

Happy running!

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