I posted the above picture before my run along the Atlantic the other day. It got a bit of attention, as the Northeast is in the middle of a SERIOUS cold spell. On this particular morning, my Weatherbug app told me it was 13 degrees, “felt like” zero. But the sun was shining! Also, I’m about to start training for a half marathon with Team in Training (to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and needed to add some base miles. My friend, Anne, had already posted that she had braved the cold, so if she could do it, I could, too. Some people told me I was nuts. Others asked what it was like and what I wore b/c they wanted to go out, too. That’s the spirit! My general advice is always to dress as if it’s 15-20 degrees warmer than it actually is, because you will generate a good amount of body heat as you move. Also, dress in layers that are easy to remove and carry (or stash somewhere safe for you to grab later). I am notorious for over-dressing when the temp is between 40-60 degrees, so having an appropriate base layer on is super-important in my book. I’ve always got to remove something! But we’re talking COLD here. That same tendency is what keeps me comfortable in temps fit for eskimos. These are my favorite pieces to wear when running in the bitter cold:
- The REAL Base Layer:
- Thick and supportive sports bra. Do I need to explain this one? My current favorite is the Senita Sarah Bra (Bonus- removable pads plus a pocket in the racerback for your phone or some cash).
- Full undies to keep your bum warm. Who cares about lines when you’re freezing your tuchus off!?!?
- Smartwool socks high enough to cover ankles (bonus points when you find them at Marshalls for a lower-than-normal price)
- Long, thin tech tank, tucked into leggings
- Base Layer: Some kind of meant-for-the-cold long sleeve top that is thick enough to be warm, with a high neck, and is thin enough to be flexible. Bonus points if it has thumbholes. My favorites are the UnderArmour ColdGear Cozy Neck (I have 3), Oiselle Wazzie Wool, and Athleta Remarkawool (which keeps me warm and looks cute, but the neck is a bit tight for my liking and its slightly itchy).
- Bottoms: My go-to are UA ColdGear leggings….but I must warn you- their newer models pale in comparison to older ones. Athleta and Nike have awesome cold-gear, too, if you’re willing to dip into your pockets. Look for something that is a thick material with a thin fleece-like lining to trap in warmth while letting you “breathe” and wick away sweat. For the dudes, Jeff (hubs) prefers UA and Nike.
- If it’s 30 or above, I may stop here or add a light windbreaker (winds along the ocean can be gnarly) or a vest (fave: Oiselle Katron Vest).
- If it’s below 30, I will add a thin fleece (Champion 1/4 zip, Polartec, etc.) and if it’s REALLY cold (like it’s been this week), add that jacket or vest on top of the fleece.
- Gloves: I wear gloves if it’s 50 or below (sometimes I’ll go as high as 60 if it’s fall and the temp dropped quickly). My hands are often cold, but I usually ditch them after the first mile. We use cheap “magic” gloves, like ones you can get at for a few dollars at any drug store. They’re my go-to for early races so I can cast them aside and not worry about my wallet taking a hit. They’re comfortable, warm, and let my skin breathe. I also have a good pair of Brooks with a thin water-resistant mitten that folds over gloved fingers, but will only wear those in the rain and if I know I’m not going to take them off or have pockets with zippers (I once had a missing glove incident that involved an unintentional extra 2 miles).
- Gaiter/ Neck Buff: Never leave home without it! When I do, I curse myself for it. I have a bunch- some were gifts, some were cheap ones from Target, but my favorite is a stretchy cotton one from Lululemon (as seen in the pic above). It was on sale for $20 and is in excellent shape after almost 5 years. It’s long enough to pull over my face in the wind, and thin enough that I can wrap it around my wrist if I am warm and need to take it off. Some double as headbands/ ear warmers, too!
- Headband/ Ear Warmers (b/c I’m uncomfortable running in hats w/ this thick-ass mop of hair): Also another must!!! This one is Oiselle and is usually awesome, BUT in today’s frigid air, I stepped outside to find it’s just not warm enough. I went back inside and dove into my winter accessory basket. I have a fleece headband from TNT that is thick but a little loose, and 2 Nike’s that are a bit tight and also not quite warm enough on their own in this Arctic nonsense. So after experimenting with some combinations, I went with the Oiselle headband UNDER a non-running but adjustable headband, knit by one of my BFFs and sent to me from NC. She has her own ETSY shop- check her out at GiaRoseArt!!! She made a mini one for Georgie, too! Anyway, the pair of them were a perfect match. My ears were kept nice and toasty.
- Snow? Ice? Trails? If you simply MUST go out, add some YakTrax to your shoes. It’ll prevent falls by adding friction and they make you feel bad-ass. Think of them as snow tires for your feet.
- Nighttime? Make yourself visible. Anything that glows in the dark, reflects, or shines light is a go. We like to wear reflective stuff (headband, jacket stripes, etc.) and old-school slap bracelets w/ led lights in them.
When in doubt, use a generic what-to-wear calculator, like the one the folks at Runner’s World developed: https://www.runnersworld.com/what-to-wear
Also, if you go out solo in harsh conditions, make sure someone always knows where you are, what direction you’re going in, and how long you expect to take. Wear a Road ID or something that identifies you in some way or bring a phone and turn on the Find my phone/ Friends function (non-tech-savvy dork alert: I don’t even know how to do that- good thing I run mostly in a place where everybody knows my name). If you’ve got a favorite article of clothing for cold-weather running, or questions for me, hit up the comment section below!