Dressing for Cold Weather Running

Oklahoma weather is fickle.  Seriously.  In every place I’ve lived, people say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.”  But only in Oklahoma have I seen that to be true in extremes.  Here’s what I mean.

This was me running about 4 days before Christmas:Yeah, it felt like an early summer day out there.

Then, two days later, I’m running in this.  What?!And yesterday, I woke up to this forecast:I got some questions recently about what I wear in cold weather.  You can catch up on my essentials for running in winter weather here, but I thought today I’d focus specifically on the clothes I wear when it’s just downright cold out there.

  1.  Layer your clothes.  Wear a couple of thinner layers instead of one heavy layer.  The body heats up quickly with activity.  And running hot is just miserable.  If you get too hot, just remove an outer layer.
  2. Wear moisture wicking fabric next to your skin.  The first layer I put on, whether it’s tops or bottoms, is something of moisture wicking fabric.  In extreme cold like today, my top will be a long-sleeved shirt, and my first bottom layer will be a pair of leggings.  Most moisture wicking clothing will be labeled, but you can also look at the labels.  Clothes made with mostly polyester will be moisture wicking.  Avoid cotton next to your skin!  Even in the cold, you will sweat, and cotton just absorbs the moisture and makes you feel wet and uncomfortable.  I also wear a polyester cap, and the first pair of gloves I put on are moisture wicking.
  3. Think zippered tops for an outer layer.  I like zippered jackets for my outer top layer.  If I start to get too warm, I can unzip my jacket first.  Sometimes that cools me off enough.  But if I do want to take my outer layer off, a zipper makes it easy to get off.  Most of my outer layer jackets are also made of polyester, but with a moisture wicking shirt next to your skin, you could wear pretty much anything as an outer layer.  You just want to make sure you can move easily and don’t feel weighed down by what you’re wearing.
  4. Wear lightweight wind pants over leggings.  For my outer bottom layer, I love these super lightweight athletic pants.  They aren’t made especially for running, but they block the wind, don’t weigh me down, and are easy to move in.
  5. Layer those gloves!  For some reason, my hands stay miserably cold when I’m outside in winter.  And unlike the rest of my body, my hands don’t seem to warm up with activity.  I’ve found that layering gloves works well.  If I get too warm, I can peel off layers until I have just the right amount of protection.  I start with a pair of moisture wicking gloves, add a pair (or 2) of knit gloves, and then finish it off with a pair of fleecy socks.  Yep!  Socks are like mittens and provide tons of extra warmth.  My hands stay toasty warm even on the coldest of runs!
  6. Wear wool socks.  I love Feetures socks.  They are all I run in.  A friend told me about these Feetures socks and how they kept her feet warmer.  I tried a pair, and they have now become my go to cold weather running sock.  My toes still feel like ice cubes for a mile or two, but it seems they thaw out a lot more quickly than with my regular socks.
  7. Keep your ears warm.  I love my moisture wicking Under Armor cap.  It keeps my head warm but doesn’t make my hair feel wet.
  8. Cover your nose and mouth.  There are all kinds of things out there made especially for runners to cover their noses and mouths.  I haven’t tried them because as a runner with glasses, if I cover my nose and mouth too tightly, my glasses fog over when I breathe out!  For now, I just use a regular scarf.  I can loosen or tighten it as needed to avoid that dreaded glasses fog.



One rule that guides me as I’m deciding how to dress to run outside is to dress for 20 degrees warmer than actual temperatures.  So even though it’s 20 degrees, I’m going to dress for 40 degrees.  Cold weather running can be invigorating if you’re dressed appropriately!  I hope this helps, and maybe I’ll see you out there!

Talk to me:

How’s the weather where you live?

Cold weather runner or not?

Author: Juanita

Thanks for dropping in! I’m Juanita. People tell me I don’t look like a Juanita since I’m red headed and freckled with super pale skin, but what’s in a name, right? I’m a 40-something, single (as in no kids, never been married) gal from Oklahoma. I’m a nurse and most importantly, a follower of Jesus. I love chocolate, am scared of heights, and petrified of snakes. After my fortieth birthday and coming to grips with the fact that I was obese, I discovered I’m a runner and a CrossFitter, and that there’s a whole lot of life left to live. I just had to get past the fat, stare down the fear, and realize that 40 is not too old for new beginnings. So this is the story of my struggles and adventures in the quest to live a healthy life in mind, body, and soul.

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