Running outdoors beats slogging away on a treadmill down at the gym hands down every time: you get to enjoy the scenery as you run along paths and trails, thus avoiding the boredom factor of staring at endless music videos, or worse, your own reflection in the mirror. But running over the winter presents a number of problems, in particular the likelihood of experiencing inclement weather, so how can you stay warm and continue to run through the coldest months of the year?
Wear enough clothes for winter runs
Just because you know you sweat a lot when running, it doesn’t mean you can afford to head out in a skimpy little pair of shorts and a vest top. You might end the run feeling warm, but developing hypothermia in the first twenty minutes isn’t conducive to a successful training session. So layer up!
Layer up over the winter
The key to successful winter running is layers. Rather than wearing one thick fleece and sweating for ten miles, wear several thin layers so you can remove one or two if/when you get too hot. Ideally choose clothing made from technical fabrics that wick the sweat away from your skin as this will help to prevent you from catching a chill. Long sleeved tops made from Merino wool are great for winter running—Merino wool keeps you warm but is very breathable because it is a natural fabric.
Keep your legs warm
Some folk run in shorts, no matter what the weather, and if this is you, great. Personally I prefer to wear running tights during the winter as they stop my legs from turning purple. But if you feel that running tights are not a good look for you, consider compromising and choose some three quarter winter leggings or similar instead.
Don’t forget the hat and gloves!
We lose a huge amount of heat through the top of our heads, so always wear a hat when the weather is freezing cold. You may find your ears feel the cold too, especially when there is a cold wind, so pick a hat that covers your ears and keeps them nice and cosy. Hands also feel the cold, at least during the first half of a run, so invest in some thin gloves to ensure your fingers stay in contact with the rest of your body.
Socks and shoes for winter runs
It is easy to forget about your feet—at least until they are wet and soggy and freezing cold. Once the rest of your body has warmed up, your feet will feel nice and toasty, but you still need to wear the right socks. Avoid thick socks because they will make your feet sweat: ideally choose thermal running socks made from natural fabrics to absorb the sweat and keep your feet comfortable.
Wear weather appropriate clothing
If it’s raining or windy, you need to wrap up well or you will catch a chill. Running for miles in the pouring rain is no fun whatsoever so wear a thin waterproof layer and stay dry. Running when it’s windy is just as bad. Cold winds sap the warmth from your body the moment you slow down, so if you are heading out for a run and there is a cold wind blowing, wear a wind proof shell and stay warm.
Brad Chambers is a part time blogger and writer for Sealskinz.com, one of the UK’s leading stockists of thermal, running socks. Brad blogs about extreme sports, travel regularly tweets on Twitter.