Winter Running Essentials and Layering Guide

Updated: Jul 26, 2019

Once upon a time I use to overdress for my winter runs...Okay, so maybe I still do on occasion. Old habits die hard! Without a doubt I would head out the door feeling comfortable in my 10,000 layers, and ready to smash my run! Of course a mile or two into the run I was starting to sweat and frantically unzipping the jacket, removing the hat and gloves and stuffing them in pockets or anywhere I can get them to stay! I was overheating under all those layers and start freezing from my base layers being drenched in semi-frozen sweat. Sounds miserable right? Well, I’m here to help you learn from my layering mistakes all these years.

Winter Running Essentials:

  • Hat/headband and/or Buff

  • Long sleeve wool blend or tech shirts. Depending on your area and winter temperatures you may need to invest in both a medium-weight and a heavy-weight base layers.

  • Windproof running jacket. Added bonus if it has a hood.

  • Gloves or mittens. Even having multiple pairs in different thicknesses to layer and options for warmer and colder days.

  • Running tights or pants

  • Running socks wool blend or technical. Added bonus if they are tall and over the calf.

  • Trail shoes (even better if they are waterproof or water resistant) for grip or winter running clamps

  • Sunglasses to protect your eyes. Snow reflects the sun’s harmful UV rays, and the light bouncing off the snow can be blinding.

  • Don’t forget the facial sunscreen and lip balm with SPF both are a musts, yes even in the winter you need to protect your skin and face. The sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds.

Rule of thumb:

Dressing like it’s 20 degrees warmer than it is will help ensure you don’t over-layer.You should always start your run a little cold, if you are comfortable walking out the door that’s your first sign you're overdressed. It’s better to be slightly cold and dry, than overly warm and sweating (which can freeze and lead to hypothermia). If you already feel toasty on the first mile of your run, you’re probably overdressed.

Quick guide on what to wear:

  • 60F and above: Tank top or singlet, and shorts

  • 50-59F: T-shirt and shorts

  • 40-49F: Long sleeve lightweight shirt, shorts or tights, mittens or gloves (both optional)

  • 30-39F: Long sleeve medium weight shirt, with a T-shirt, tights and shorts, mittens/gloves, and a hat/headband

  • 20-29F: Medium weight long sleeve shirt, with a T-shirt, tights or pants, socks, mittens/gloves, long socks, and hat

  • 10-19F: Medium weight long sleeve shirt, and medium/heavy weight shirt, tights or pants, windproof running jacket, long socks, thick mittens and hat

  • 0-9F: Two medium or heavyweight long sleeve tops, tights or pants preferably with a windproof front, wicking undergarments like smartwool, warm and windproof jacket, gloves and thick mittens, long socks, ski mask/buff, and hat

*Pro Tip: Tuck your shirt into your running pants to seal in maximum warmth around your core.

Happy Training!

Coach Carly