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Winter running: Get the right gear

The running season has, for most runners, come to a close. We’ve hung up our shoes, deciding that Daylight Savings Time was really just an anomaly in our society, and we’d rather sit down and watch a little Dancing with the Stars than put in three miles before dinner. Alas, Turkey Day comes, Black Friday awaits us, and that BIG holiday looms near: Boxing Day. We know the drill. Life ― and for a good many of us, the weather ― gets in the way of running. We put a few cookie-filled pounds on, and we make those ridiculous New Year’s Resolutions, vowing that we’re going to run this winter.

Well, you really can run this winter. Here’s what you can do to make your winter running experience warm, safe, and enjoyable. It might also help you fill up that Boxing Day list you’ve been meaning to populate.

You don’t need to buy fancy clothes to be a runner. We’ve all started out with sweatshirts and sweatpants in our running careers, but if you want to look like a runner, ask for these hot items.


There are a lot of head covering options for runners. Yes, that Chicago Bears circa 1985 knit cap has gotten you through many a winter snowblowing adventures, but it might not be the best head covering if you’re going to be putting on the miles. Knit caps will keep you warm, but they will also help you sweat.

Try a Pearl Izumi Transfer Hat (pictured right) made of P.R.O. Thermal Lite fabric for $17.00. This keeps snug to your head and keeps you warm.


We all know hands will get cold when the temperatures drop. There are lots of types of gloves you can wear from inexpensive ($2) light cotton gloves (pictured) available at any discount store like Target, to more expensive ($25) ones like the ASICS Thermopolis Running Gloves, available online or at a local running store.



Upper body

The key to winter running is layering. Your core is where the heat is. Make sure you aren’t too hot, or too cold. If you get too cold, you run the risk getting hypothermia. Having appropriate layers of a jacket, wicking shirts, and other clothes will help you stay safe. You don’t need to wear hundreds of layers of clothes to go running. Your body will generate heat the moment you increase your heartrate. Here are some jackets you might consider for a winter run:

Brooks Utopia Thermal Hoodie for around $75.00 will keep you warm and give you some head covering.

Brooks Nightlife Jacket (pictured right) for $90.00 offers the additional benefit of high visibility when lighting is poor.

Nike Element Shield for $80.00 might do the trick for those wanting a snugger fit compared to the Brooks Nightlife Jacket. When the winter winds are whipping, snugger is oftentimes more comfortable.

Pants and Tights ― both thin and thick

Long gone are the sweatpants of yore because sweatpants really do trap in the sweat. There are two types of leg covering available for runners: pants and tights. You’ve really got to be comfortable in yourself to pull off the tights, or pair them up with shorts, like I do, to feel more comfortable. Tights will wick sweat away and keep you dry. Thin tights work really well for warmer days. Thicker ones for colder days. Pants also work and can be paired up with tights if you’ve got the thin ones.

You can spend a lot of money on tights. Here are two examples:

Women have a third option ― pictured left ― the Capri length. I have to admit I don’t understand why anyone would want their calves exposed to the elements in winter, but such is fashion, I suppose.


Flashy Lights and Reflective Gear

Lastly, I’m a big supporter of making yourself as visible to drivers while you’re out running as possible, especially at night. Any sort of blinky, flashy, reflective thing you can wear makes you more visible and, hopefully, more safe.

The easiest route is a flashing light. The Fun Source 180 Pro Safety Light at $9.00 could do the trick. Add a vest, available locally in stores or online for upwards of $20.00, but you can probably get things cheaper than that.

The Nathan L.E.D. Runner’s Vest at $32.00 with 500 candle power reflectivity and up to 1,200 foot visibility with the lights intrigues me. I’ve seen someone with something similar, and these are amazing lights. Drivers cannot miss you if you’re wearing something like this.

The Final Word

You don’t have to get all this fancy gear to get out there on the road this winter, but you should get out there. Start now, as your Thanksgiving dinner has settled and you’re just beginning to think about all the great holiday cookies you will be eating in short order. This gear will make you feel more comfortable when it’s cold, and it will make you look good too.

Take it from someone who has run in 8 below temperatures. How low can you go?



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