Gearhead: Winter running clothes

It’s that time of year again! The temperature is below zero, you can see your breath when you breathe, there’s snow on the ground and the sun sets at 4:30 pm. Yep, winter is here. And even in Scotland, where last winter our first snowfall was in April, we’ve had snow all week! This Canadian prairie girl is happy. These frigid temperatures require some specialised running gear to help you maintain and keep your fitness through the winter, which is, let’s face, a really tempting time to stay inside with a mug of something hot, sit by the fire (if you’ve got a fireplace), wrap yourself in a blanket and be a couch surfer. A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law Kate left this comment on the post 10 Things and more that I love about running:

Thus the Winter Running Clothes post was inspired! Thinking of continuing your running this winter? Wanting to take the next step as a beginner runner and buy some more specialist gear? Needing some Christmas gift ideas? I think I can help. Below are some must-have items and tips I go by for my winter running clothes. Please feel free to add on at the end, I welcome your feedback.

1. Winter tights: Some people are lucky and can run miles without getting cold legs. I’m not one of those people. I get cold thighs and a cold bum, and the moment the temperature hovers around zero, it’s time to take my cold temperature tights out. Winter tights aren’t just any spandex tights, and you need to read labels and product descriptions when you’re shopping to find exactly what you’re looking for. The product name and/or description should have words like thermal, cool conditions, warmth, winter, etc; basically anything indicating that they are for cold weather. When shopping for tights in general, I prefer high-waisted ones (like close to my bell button), because I’m a big hip, big bum kind of girl, and low-waisted tights give me the very unflattering ‘muffin top.’ When trying on your tights, they will fell different than regular spandex spring/fall tights: they’ll feel a tiny bit tighter or constricting, and the fabric itself will be thicker. You’ll also need a little pocket to hold your keys, gels and anything else small you’ll need on a run. These definitely are a must-have for anyone running through the winter, and for you guys out there who aren’t ready to take the jump to tights from shorts, why not put shorts over top the tights?

I wear Brooks Infiniti Tights, pictured below. Check out the rubber ankle grips!

2. Headgear: There is nothing worse that running with cold ears, or having the wind bother your ears. Wearing an earband, or even a hat, can relieve this. I wear a simple Β£3 earband that keeps my ears warm, and performs dual functionality by keeping my hair out of my face. My earband has special flaps that dip down to specifically cover my ears. If I get hot whilst running, I’ll actually lift the flaps up to cool down. I look silly, but it works!

If you’re more inclined to wear a hat, you’ll want something lighter in weight and again, something that covers your ears.


Whether you choose an earband or hat is up to you. I go for the band because of my long hair, which sticks out in a ponytail while I run. Some of my running friends with short cuts or bobs tend to go for hats.

3. Thermal layer(s): I swear by thermal tops, and tend to wear them almost all year long. I prefer these to tshirts (unless it’s really hot), for their dry-wicking abilities to keep sweat away and still keep you warm. Notice how I tuck my thermal into my tights? I don’t want any drafts! If it’s a sunny and warm winter’s day with no wind, I’ll layer one thermal over another, but if it’s a cold, windy or wet night, I’ll wear a thermal underneath my running jacket.

Thermal combination #1

Thermal combination #2

4. Running jacket: Probably the most important piece of gear after running tights for me. Last Christmas, my husband bought me the jacket below, and I honestly can’t believe it took me that long to get one! I used to run in an old, black autumn jacket, wearing a fluorescent vest for high visibility. It was windproof and waterproof, but just too hot and heavy! My running jacket gives me the same benefits, but without the bulk and overheating. It’s lightweight, waterproof, and windproof (two key things you’re looking for), and although I may start a run feeling cold from the temperature, I’m quickly able to warm up. The jacket, paired with a thermal layer underneath, keeps me warm and dry (from sweat). My jacket also has pockets to hold my phone (on which I use my MapMyRun app), as well as to store my gloves once my hands get hot.

5. Gloves/mittens: I must be a cold person, because I usually suffer from cold hands throughout the winter. I’ve been called a ‘Cald Tatty’ here in Scotland, or a cold potato, because of it. I always start a run with my thin fleece gloves or mittens, but end up putting them in my pockets half way through. I just wear cheap gloves from the grocery store myself:

But if you want, you can go for specialist running gloves like these:


If you want to get really hardcore with your winter running, you might also want to invest in special winter running shoes with more pronounced treads to brave the slippery conditions, like these:


Or try Yaktrax, light-weight ice grips that you wear over your running shoes.

Regardless of how you kit yourself out, the most important thing to remember is to be visible at night. Whether you wear a fluorescent pink/yellow/green/orange jacket, or have reflective bit all over (like mine), you need to seen by cars at night to prevent any serious risks. Take care in the cold and don’t let it be an excuse to stay in. My running ladies and I right now are doing easy runs, partly because it’s icy outside, and partly because we’ve got nothing major coming up, but still want to keep our fitness. We’re doing maximum 4 mile runs, and keeping the pace slow, like 10:30 miles instead of up to 9:15 miles, and we’re able to chat while we run. It makes it all more enjoyable, (so does that hot shower afterwards). So get out there this winter and keep running!

Or I’ll come after you!

On a side note, I’m thinking of switching from Blogger hosting to WordPress. Ever since I switched my profile to Google+, my Feedburner for email subscriptions isn’t working. I’ve pinged it (very technical term), but it still won’t work. I’ve also considered WordPress because it seems every single blog I follow is WordPress, and maybe there’s something to it. Thoughts?
Tomorrow is Friday, thank goodness!

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