So, you have signed up for a spring running race (like the New Jersey Marathon or Half Marathon)- that’s awesome. Spring is beautiful, the birds are chirping, everything is coming back to life, the sun is out and the days are getting longer. Spring running is just fantastic; race day will be great. But wait, you have to train to get there right and that means running through January, February and March …… wait, wait, wait, before you go curl up on the couch and watch Netflix all winter or rush to the store to buy a treadmill, there are a lot of things you can do to make running in winter more tolerable, safer and dare I say, downright enjoyable.
Dress for success
There are a lot of things you need to keep in mind when dressing for winter running. Gone are the days of throwing on your favorite shorts and best singlet and heading out the door, but don’t worry, they will be back for race day this spring. For now though, we have to be smart and deliberate about what we wear when we head out the door.
In general it is good to think about winter running clothes in terms of three layers. The first layer, or base layer is right against your skin and helps with moisture, the second layer is on tp of that and is your insulative layer designed to keep you warm and the third layer is the outer layer designed to protect against wind or weather.
Stay warm - but not too warm (Mid Layer)
A good rule of thumb is to dress for conditions 15-25 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. This is because as you run your body's core temperature will rise, making you more comfortable. If you were to be comfortable and warm at the start of a run in 20 degrees wearing a down parka, ski pants and mittens, you will be sweating bullets and uncomfortable shortly into your run. So dress for conditions only slightly warmer than it is when you run. It is ok if you are a bit chilly as you start your run, but you shouldn’t be shivering.
Stay Dry (Base and Outer Layer)
Moisture is your enemy! We need to protect ourselves against moisture in winter, and it attacks from inside your clothes and outside!
First, wear moisture wicking fabrics in winter. You want to remove sweat from your skin as quickly as you can, so wear a layer of moisture wicking fabrics.
Next, we need to protect against wind, rain, sleet, snow and hail- after all, it's winter in New Jersey and we never know what we are going to get. So wear a light outer layer designed to be waterproof or moisture resistant when there is a chance of inclement weather during your run. Shells and jackets with zippers and vents are often a good choice as they allow you to open or close depending on the conditions and as your core temperature changes.