Having not lived my whole life here in Canada (you guys know I’m from Venezuela), it definitely took me some time to embrace winter running. Just as I thought I could never run while pushing a stroller, I never imagined I could survive running outside during Winter. How do you dress? How do you avoid falling? How do you even breathe? Those were questions that always popped in my mind whenever I saw someone running through the snow or under extreme temperatures. I always thought people were crazy to do that. But just as I quickly got used to running with a stroller (did that for almost 5 years and boy do I owe it for making me stronger!) I’ve come to learn and ENJOY running in cold weather.
For those of you who have been asking how exactly do I layer for my winter runs, I’ve put together a list of things I consider essential if you want to survive in the cold without feeling that you’re seconds away from freezing. I have to say, it does take time to get used to and the more you do it the more comfortable it gets. It also helps to know your body and exactly what layers work best for you. The first year I ran throughout the whole winter I drew the line at -12 degrees celsius (windchill included). Now I draw the line at -20 degrees celsius. For some this could sound extreme (I know people who go out in even colder temps!), but trust me, if you’re dressed properly, you’ll be able to enjoy it. In my case, I do it because I love the outdoors and being able to catch a sunrise, a sunset, seeing the trees covered in snow, catch some reflection on the water….nothing beats being outside and getting inspired by nature!
Depending on the temperature I’ll layer differently but these 8 items or categories are essential for winter running.
1. HEAD PROTECTION: I normally like to wear a headband and in most cases that’s sufficient for me (if it’s too cold then I’ll pop up my jacket’s hood) but some people prefer to wear a beanie or even a balaclava if it’s really cold out! Here are some great choices: Lululemon Cross Chill Run Earwarmer (very similar to the one I wear, beanie version here) | Lole Stretch Fleece Beanie | Lole Stretch Fleece Headband | Arc’teryx Phase AR Balaclava | Arc’teryx Trino Beanie | Arc’teryx Phase AR Headband
2. JACKETS: In order to keep your core warm, a good jacket is very important and something worth the investment. I have three winter jackets on rotation: a packable parka (I like it because it’s very lightweight and easy travel with), an insulated and waterproof jacket from Lululemon (similar to this one), and this jacket from Lole. I’d say the warmest one is the one from Lulu (it also has tons of pockets which I find convenient), but the other two are just as great. Here are some options I recommend: Lululemon Down For It All Jacket (on sale) | Lululemon Down For It All Pullover (on sale) | Lole Emeline Jacket (on sale) | Lole Glee Jacket (on sale) | Lole Para Jacket | The North Face Flight Ventrix Jacket
3. SUNGLASSES: Aside the obvious reasons why you’d wear sunglasses, I like wearing them even when it’s a bit cloudy because they do block the wind from my eyes which at times can get really uncomfortable (sometimes I feel like my contacts are going to fly out!) Some cool ones: Smith Reverb Sunglasses | Oakley Flak Sunglasses | Smith Attack Sunglasses
4. GLOVES: I find that my hands (and my face) are the first two parts of my body that get cold so I opt for fleece lined gloves and sometimes even wear two pairs. These are good: Lululemon Run Fast Gloves (on sale) | Lole Stretch Fleece Gloves | Lululemon Run Fast Gloves (in black) | The North Face Runners 2 ETIP Gloves | The North Face TKA 100 Gloves | Arc’teryx Gothic Gloves
5. LAYERS: It’s crucial to wear the right layers and normally I start with a heat tech layer, followed by a fleece lined dry-fit top and then my jacket. Sometimes I’ll wear a fleece lined dry-fit top, then a heavyweight layer and then the jacket (it all depends on how cold it is outside). But regardless of how I layer I’d say that a heat tech long sleeve tee, a fleece lined top (with a mock-neck), and a heavyweight layer are definitely the three musts. Here are some great layers I love: Lululemon Keep The Heat Thermal Hoodie (on sale) | Arc’teryx Rho LT Zip Neck | Arc’teryx Rho LT Hooded Zip Neck | Nike Pro Hyperwarm Long Sleeve Shirt (I wear this over a heat tech tee or under a fleece layer) | Nike Element Long-Sleeve Running Top | Nike Dry Element Running Hoodie | Nike Therma Sphere Element Women’s Half-Zip Running Top
6. TIGHTS: There’s no question that for runs on temperatures below -5 degrees celsius, a fleece lined pair of tights is necessary. I normally wear something like this or this, and when it gets below -10 degrees celsius I layer this over a pair of tights that allow movement (you know, those that feel like second skin). I find it the perfect combination because it keeps my legs warm and it doesn’t feel bulky (nor does it obstruct movement which is very important). Good tights to consider: Lululemon Toasty Tech Tigth II (on sale) | Nike Epic Lux Shield Women’s Running Tights | Nike Pro Warm Notebook Allover Print Women’s Tights | Nike Women’s Pro Hyperwarm Tights
7. SHOES: A good pair of socks and a good pair of waterproof shoes make all the difference! I’ve been loving these shoes and highly recommend them. They keep my feet warm and dry and I have never felt a tiny bit of cold in my toes. If I’m mainly running on snow I wear these, which I find have great traction and better grip than my Nikes. Nike Pegasus 35 Shield (here and here too) | Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX Trail Running Shoes (here and here too)
8. SOCKS: Wool socks make all the difference so if you’re asking if it’s worth the investment (they are pricey!) I say YES! Sometimes I’ll just wear a pair of low wool socks, and others I’ll wear my regular running socks layered under a pair of high wool socks. Stance Cushion Run Quarter Socks | Smartwool PHD Run Light Socks | Thorlo experia micro mini crew/no show sock (my favourite running socks) | PS: You can find Smartwool socks on sale at Nordstrom Rack 😉
If you’ve been on the fence regarding outdoor running during Winter trust me when I say that if you’re well dressed and have the proper gear, you’ll be able to enjoy it and actually enjoy it. The more you get out the more comfortable you’ll feel during every run 🙂