Get Your Cold Weather Running Gear

Cold weather running gear is critical for your safety and comfort when the temperature plummets. Indeed some of the most enjoyable runs to experience in the Canadian north are on cold crisp winter days on well-packed snowmobile trails.

For many folks, winter is a time for training on the treadmill. No doubt, treadmills have their place and can be wonderful training tools with many benefits, but it’s also important to acclimatize to colder weather and really reap the rewards in the spring racing season. To ensure that your lungs have a chance to adapt to the colder weather, 25% of your mileage should be outdoors right through the winter.

Much like running apparel for hot weather, drawing sweat away from your skin is critical to allow for the natural regulation of your body temperature and of course friction prevention. The key to comfortable and functional cold weather running gear then is it must be breathable, moisture wicking but also warm and provide a degree of wind protection. It’s the dreaded north wind chill that will penetrate your layers and stop you in your tracks. Dressing to run in colder climates is a bit of an art to get right. It’s really all about smart layering of materials that all function well together. A layer of 'Dri-fit' covered with cotton will compromise the layer and hold the sweat in until your base layer is saturated. So for example on a cold windy day, wear a base layer(underwear/long johns and shirt) of moisture wicking clothing followed by another layer perhaps a bit thicker followed by a wind shell jacket. The goal is to dress warm enough but not overdress so that you’ll overheat. Since it takes a good 15 minutes to warm up, it can be hard to tell right out the door if you've done a good job. A few light extras such as a bella clava that you can keep around your neck, can make a big difference, especially during the second half of a long run, after the sun has gone down and the temperature plummets! Regular thickness socks and regular training shoes usually do. Since running causes a high velocity of blood flow through your feet, you will rarely experience cold toes while running. Unless of course, you fail to wear moisture wicking socks or start off your run with wet feet! If you don cleats, ensure that they are big enough to go over your shoes without constricting your toes.

From head to toe, here is a list of must-have cold weather running gear if you plan to run outside this winter in comfort:

  • Base Layer – moisture wicking short or long sleeve shirts and long johns to wear directly against your skin
  • Cleats – slip over your shoes
  • Grease – for seams, cheeks and lips to protect from wind and sun burn
  • Anti-fog glasses – yet to find completely anti-fog glasses but some are better than others
  • Gloves and Mitts – gloves will be fine until you get colder than minus 10 Celsius at which point, your hands will be warmer if your fingers are together
  • Light and Heavy toque – toques are probably your most important cold weather running gear as far as temperature regulation goes. As with gloves, light dri-fit toques that cover your ears will suffice unless it’s very windy or the temperature falls below minus 10 Celsius
  • Bella Clava – these are great and you should rarely leave home without one. They can lightly stack around your neck to be easily pulled up to cover your head, forehead, chin and neck if need be
  • Shell – light, moisture wicking jacket with kidney protection beaver tail that offers wind protection.
  • Underwear – running underwear has soft seams, is moisture wicking and as a bonus can be covered with wind breaking material (a male runner’s best friend)

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