How to Dress for Winter Running

Text by: Kelsey Begg

Arc’teryx, Black Diamond, Fitletic, Gregory, Icebreaker, Mizuno, Osprey, Petzl, Salomon, Saucony, Shock Absorber, The North Face, Under Armour. How to Dress for Winter Running

Running during the winter time can be a bit daunting for a number of reasons, icy paths, cold temperatures, lack of visibility etc, but with the right gear, you can beat the winter blues. Stretch out your outdoor, running routine and keep hitting the pavement or snow this winter season with this winter running guide.

Finding The Right Footwear

Running gurus won’t stop at the sign of snow in the forecast but instead, beef up their running gear so that they can keep racking up their weekly kilometres before and after work. With the proper footwear, you too can be out there with the running gurus all winter long!

Sole of the Shoe

Proper footwear is the key to winter running and battling the icy paths and roads so make sure your shoes are safe. Look for footwear that has lugs on the sole like the Salomon Speedcross series. These lugs will provide a more superior grip on snow covered surfaces and are ideal for trail running where the terrain is uneven and soft.

lugsole ice spikes SALOMON Men's Spikecross 3 CS

Generally, with lug-soled footwear, it is best to avoid hard packed terrain like cement as it will wear down the lugs (generally are made of rubber) faster. Salomon also has a Spikecross and Snowcross series which are equipped with the rubber lugs and have 9 additional carbide tipped spikes on each shoe. These spikes offer extra traction on any surface that you may encounter on a run including icy terrain.

salomon speedcross 4 gtx trail running shoe

Salomon

Speedcross 4 GTX

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unisex shoe

Salomon

 Snowcross 2 CS WP  

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xa pro 3d gtx trail running shoe

Salomon

XA Pro 3D GTX

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razor ice+ running shoes

Saucony

 Razor Ice+ 

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Other brands such as The North Face will also carry lug-soled footwear which are ideal for winter conditions. Petzl also carries slip-on crampons that are suitable for all types of footwear and can be worn while running for added traction.

Waterproofing & Insulation

When searching for shoes to wear while running in the winter, something that is waterproof or has a waterproof coating will keep your feet dry should you hit some slush along your route. Wet feet will quickly lead to cold feet, especially in winter temperatures, so do your best to keep your feet dry and warm.

Unlike hiking shoes, it can be hard to find running shoes that are insulated and can stand up against winter temperatures but with a well-waterproofed pair of shoes, you can wear warmer socks for insulation. Socks made of merino wool will be moisture-wicking, temperature balancing and for the most part, odourless so they are perfect for not only hiking but for winter running as well.

 

*To find the perfect running shoes for you, check out our finding the perfect running shoe guide.

What To Wear

Running is similar to other outdoor activities when it comes to how you dress; steer clear of cotton and choose moisture-wicking fabrics. Effective layering will not only keep you warm in cold weather but will keep your body temperature balanced for the duration of your activity and allow you to stay out in the elements for longer.

Clothing

Start with a merino wool or moisture-wicking, synthetic layer as your base layer then throw on a fleece, softshell, down or synthetic layer (Thermoball, Polartec, FullRange etc.) for insulation. If you’re still feeling a bit chilly, you can always add an additional layer between your base and insulation layer for extra warmth. When you are layering, it is essential that you can still move comfortably and that the layers aren’t so tight that you can barely move your arms. A third layer, known as your shell or outer layer,  is worn to protect you from the elements such as rain, sleet or snow. Generally, this layer is a waterproof and breathable shell with not much insulation but works with your layering system to trap body heat and keep your body warm.

Be sure not to overdo it when you are picking multiple layers. Pick thickness and materials wisely so that you are not overheating halfway through your run. Keep in mind that it is generally the coldest when you first step outside but once you get moving your body will warm up.

Sports Bra

Picking a good, supportive sports bra is a key piece of running gear for any time of year. Although it is easy to cheap out and go for a not-so-steller sports bra, it is worth paying the few extra bucks and investing in a good one.

A sports bra with thicker straps like the Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra will feel more comfortable on your shoulders and offer more support if you need it.

ultimate run bra

Shock Absorber

Ultimate Run Bra

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shock absorber multi sport bra

Shock Absorber

Active Multisport Bra

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the north face stow n go bra

The North Face

Stow-N-Go Bra

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crossback mid bra

Under Armour

UA Crossback Mid

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Accessories

Keeping your head, face, ears and fingers warm while running can have a large impact on your overall body temperature and comfort. If halfway through your run you can’t feel your fingers anymore, it may become distracting or painful and cause you to call the end of the run early.

So be prepared. Go outside ready for the winter conditions. Throw on a toque or a headband to protect your ears, slip on some gloves or mitts to keep your fingers warm and keep your neck and face covered with a balaclava or Buff.

craft brilliant 2.0 headband

Craft

Brilliant 2.0 Headband

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buff lightweight solid merino wool neckwarmer

Buff

Lightweight Solid Merino Wool

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icebreaker pocket beanie

Icebreaker

Pocket Beanie

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icebreaker unisex sierra gloves

Icebreaker

Sierra Gloves

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winter running

Make Yourself Visible

Sometimes you get blue bird winter days where the fresh, white snow sparkles in the sunlight and other times, you get dark, grey and sombre-looking days. In both cases, you want to ensure that you are visible when you’re out running whether you be on walking paths or roads.

It can be difficult to spot a runner on a regular day let alone on a dark, gloomy day and especially at night so make yourself visible. Wear reflective bands around your ankles and wrists, pick brightly coloured outerwear or wear a small light so that you can’t be missed.

nathan reflective ankle bands

Reflective Ankle Bands

nathan reflective vest

Bandolier Reflective Vest

nathan hyper-brite strobe

Hyper-Brite Strobe

nathan light spur

Light Spur

Shop Nathan Accessories

Stay Hydrated

Whether you run with a water bottle or not, being hydrated while running in the winter is as important as it is in the hot, summer months. If you prefer not to carry a water bottle with you while running, there are waist belt options as well as water packs which can be very useful. Keep in mind that if you take water with you on a run in the winter, there is a high chance it will freeze and turn into a popsicle by the time you go to drink it, so use properly insulated hoses for water packs. If the temperatures are too cold or you are not equipped with the gear to bring water along for your run, it is essential that you ensure that you drink a sufficient amount of water before you leave the house as well as when you return to the house.

Although you may not feel like you are perspiring as much and losing water, the truth is you are. So don’t wait until you’re thirsty before you take a drink. Hydration is important and impacts your body and your performance.

fitletic hydrapocket handheld bottle

Fitletic

HydraPocket

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salomon unisex s-lab sense ultra 5 set

Salomon

S-LAB Sense Ultra 5 Set

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osprey tempest 6

Osprey

Tempest 6

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gregory miwok 6l backpack

Gregory

Miwok 6L

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Being Cautious

Walking on ice can be intimidating and many will result to the penguin shuffle in order to get passed the ice patch safely but what about running on ice? Here’s the trick! Proper footwear with good traction, as mentioned above, is essential but there are also running techniques and modifications that will keep you safe when you hit the ice, ice baby!

Take off with a slower speed, to begin with. Faster speeds have more chance for unbalanced steps on unstable terrain and can leave you on your bum in the snow. Go slower and be aware of your footing; take smaller strides but more steps.

The smaller the strides are that you take, the better the better chance for keeping your centre of balance centred. When you take long, running strides, your weight shifts unevenly between your feet and a miss-step can lead to an accident. This happens when all of your weight is on your front foot out ahead of you but your centre of gravity is not above the weight contact point (your foot).

Be careful out there. Trying new techniques can be challenging and feel weird so be patient. Not every technique works for everyone but in the trial process, you may find your own technique.

winter running

Look After Your Body

Cold weather can leave your muscles feeling tight and achy or even get a trick knee to start kickin’. Be aware that your muscles need more attention in the winter especially before you head out for activities. Do some stretches when you wake up and throughout the day and this will keep your muscles loose and warm.

Create some sort of warm-up routine for yourself before a winter run. Include some stretches, high-knees and jumping jacks. This will get the blooding flowing through your body and get your legs, and body prepped for the cold.

Try to have a cool-down routine which involves drinking some water and taking deep breathes to relax your body at the end of an intense run. It is also important to try to avoid sitting down right away after because the sudden stop in movement puts too much strain on your heart. You want to slow your heart rate down gradually with a brisk walk then a regular walk and shaking out your legs followed by some calm stretching. The more effective your cool-down routine is, the faster your muscles will restore and be rejuvenated for your next workout.

Other body care things to keep in mind are sunscreen and lip balm. Although it may not seem like the sun is shining, the reflection on the sun can be very strong and give you a sunburn or you can get a windburn. Put on some moisturizing sun screen before you head out for your run and be wary of where you apply it because when you sweat the sunscreen will run so be careful around your eyes. As for lip balm, cold, dry weather can make your lips very dry and cracked so take extra care especially if it is windy. Having chapped, cracked lips don’t feel very comfortable so keep a stick of lip balm in an easy to find a place for when it’s needed.

What Are You Waiting For?

Fight back against the cheeky snow this winter season and continue your outdoor running routine with ease. Laugh at icy paths and roads as you glide across with secure traction and carry on into the cold temperatures with your impeccable layering system. With the proper gear and precautions, winter running will soon become your favourite activity!

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