Even seasoned runners can attest the hardest part about cold weather running is often just getting out of a warm bed and getting started. However cold the day, running will almost always thaw you from within. The tricky part about running in chilly temperatures: choosing what to wear. Underdress and you will have difficulty getting those muscles loose and hitting your stride. Overdress and you are hot, uncomfortable, sweaty, and tempted to throw that new running jacket you got for Christmas into a bush. The secret to success: LAYERS.
Pro tip: Many runners wear clothing suitable for the first 10 minutes of the training session. Remember, you will be significantly warmer after 10 minutes of activity! Ideally, you want to dress to optimize comfort during the second half of the workout. Also important – especially living in a place like Charlotte- the temperature may go up by as much as 10 degrees during your run.
For the visual learners among us, here’s a cheat sheet on how to layer up like a pro:
Our friends at runCLTrun shared some additional wisdom on choosing the right gear in each temperature range:
Above 50 Degrees: Yes- a short-sleeved shirt and shorts are all you need. Feeling like you just can’t get started unless you are warmer? Removable arm warmers or a super lightweight long sleeve shirt (that you will undoubtedly end up tying around your waist 5 minutes into your run) are a good add-on.
40 to 50 Degrees: Cropped or full-length tights or pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a light sweatshirt are suggested. Another option if you run “hotter” is ditching the sweatshirt for an additional long-sleeved shirt or even layering a short-sleeved and a long-sleeved shirt. Some runners never ever wear anything other than shorts, but the 40-degree mark seems to be the standard for moving to them. Wicking fabrics are important, as they draw moisture away from the body to keep you dry.
30 to 40 Degrees: Long-sleeved shirt, long pants or tights, sweatshirt or fleece, gloves, and ear warmers. Of note here: this isn’t the time for your heavy-duty ski gloves. Those come later. Single-layer gloves or mittens will do the trick. Also- consider subbing out the sweatshirt for a vest with thin padding at the front and breathable fabric at the back. This will provide insulation where you need it the most; that is, on the front of the upper body, while effectively cooling you down on the arms for optimal working temperature. In addition, you get great freedom of movement.
20 to 30 Degrees: Long-sleeved shirt plus fleece plus jacket (or vest) up top. Tights and pants on the bottom. Add a hat and your heavy gloves. Ideally, your hat can be pulled down over your ears for extra warmth. A set of drugstore hand warmers wouldn’t be a bad addition either. You are starting to pile on the clothes so it is super important to keep those layers thin, breathable, and easy to remove if you get hot.
Less than 20 Degrees: Same as above with the addition of another layer of gloves and a neck gaiter. A so-called neck tube is a great garment for regulating body temperature; pull it up to cover your face and ears if it’s cold, pull it down to protect the throat or put it in a pocket if you get too hot. Speaking of pockets: the more the better to stash layers that may no longer be necessary if the temperature rises.
Flat Runner – 40 degree style! *clothing from CRAFT Sportswear via The Novant Health Charlotte Marathon (long sleeve), Ultra Running Company (short sleeve and shorts), and Target (gloves).
Running in cold weather can be totally doable if you put the right amount of thought and effort into dressing appropriately. If you need some ideas there, any of the local specialty running shops can help, or check out our partners at CRAFT Sportswear. BAM! You’ll be ready to get out there in comfort AND style.
And remember: a high of 30 degrees may seem daunting now, but we’ll all pine for those cooler temperatures when we’re sweating it out in August!