Dressing for Cold Weather Running

by Eric Bofinger

The winter months can create problems for those who like to train outside, especially the unprepared runner.  When running in freezing weather the #1 rule is to dress in layers, while also being conscious not to wear too much clothing.  It’s a good idea to warm up inside by doing body weight exercises like squats, push ups, lunges, burpees, jumping jacks, etc.  This way you can determine if you are under or overdressed once you step outdoors.  If you can control it, start your run by going out into the wind so you can run with the wind on the way back.  There’s nothing worse than being a few miles out, exhausted and left forced running through the cold wind.  In this scenario, if the runner stops, hypothermia could set in in extreme conditions.  Be prepared!

Extreme cold weather is defined as below 15° degrees.  In this situation three layers are necessary: a moisture wicking layer, insulating layer, and outer shell.  The moisture wicking layer should be a long sleeve shirt and tights made from a synthetic fiber.  Acrylic fabric and polypropylene are some of the new high tech fabrics that are designed to keep the moisture away from your skin.  The insulating layer should be fleece or heavy cotton to pick up some of the moisture, keeping it away from the first layer.  The third and final layer is the outer shell, which keeps wind, rain, or snow away from the first two layers.  The shell should be made of nylon or gortex.  In addition to the three layers, always wear moisture wicking gloves and a hat or headband.