November 3, 2011

Cold weather running: the basics

Screw the treadmill. You don't need a lot of stuff -- and you definitely don't need to spend a lot of money -- to keep running all winter long. A few basics are enough to get you through even the coldest of days (and this is coming from a Boston runner).

Cold-weather running basics:
  1. Hat: Heat escapes the body through the head so a good running hat is crucial. I love this one from Lululemon because it has a ponytail hole in the back. 
  2. Headband: A hat may be too warm when the temps are in the high 20s or low 30s -- or when it's super sunny. For these situations, I recommend a running headband. Your ears will stay warm but you won't overheat.
  3. Mockneck: Winter running is all about layering, and this Under Armour mockneck is the perfect bottom layer. (Plus it keeps your neck warm!)
  4. Jacket: Even though it's cold, you're still going to sweat so you need breathable materials. When buying a jacket, think thin. You want it to block out snow and wind but you also want it to let in some air. I also like my jackets to have hoods since the weather can change at any moment in New England. (Side note: This Nike jacket is on sale for $49.99!)
  5. Tights: Depending on the temperature, running tights can be worn alone or as a base. I often wear running shorts over my tights to a. keep my bum warm and b. keep my tights from falling down (oddly, this seems to be a common problem among runners). 
  6. Pants. If tights aren't your thing -- or you want another bottom layer -- these Nike thermal pants are a good option.  
  7. Gloves: I have yet to find a pair of gloves that keep my fingers warm. So instead I wear two pairs of gloves. And since I'm horrible at keeping track of them, I buy the base gloves for $3 at CVS. They're not breathable AT ALL -- but they work well enough for me. If you want to be fancier, a super thin pair like this City Sports version would be good. For the top layer, go for a thicker pair -- like these Mizuno ones. 
Some additional tips:
  • Before you hit the running and sporting goods stores, check out Marshalls and TJ Maxx. I've gotten almost all of my running gear -- including the above Under Armour mockneck -- at these stores for SUPER cheap. (Just ask Alex!)
  • Your body heats up a lot while your running, so dress as though it's 20 degrees warmer. You should be a little chilly when you first step outside. 
  • If you're really not sure what to wear on your run, check out this awesome "what should I wear" tool from RunnersWorld. It's pretty much a lifesaver.


  1. EVERYONE SHOULD LISTEN TO BIANCA! Because she's the best. And kept my tush warm by helping me buy ALL of the aforementioned items. But word. That Nike jacket. I need it. Too bad the pink's sold out in my size...

  2. I love that Nike jacket and I hate to run. Perhaps having fun clothes will inspire me to get off my butt?

  3. Woohooooooo! That link is going to be very helpful for me, since my new version of "cold weather" is kind of weird and I can't seem to EVER figure out what I should be wearing. Stupid south.

  4. Thank you for all this info! I just signed up for my first marathon (Burlington City) for May. Really concerned about spring training runs (since I live in VT!). Definitely need to stop over to TJ Maxx before the cold weather really sets in.

  5. If I was a runner, this would be awesome. haha But nope, I'm a gym person. Ellipticals and weight machines for me!

  6. Great post! I've been running outside even though it's cold and snowy in Colorado right now and it's really not that bad...much better than the treadmill! I've got a 10K next Saturday and I was stressing about what to wear because my legs have been getting cold on my runs recently...I just went to REI earlier this week and got some new cold weather running tights and a new headband, so hopefully that will help...but I absolutely love those pink and black Underarmour tights, if they would have had those, I so would have bought them instead! And that Lululemon hat is darling!