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Baby It’s Cold Outside

With the 2014 Relay team announced, segment assignments in hand, and the training program in place most of the runners are at the beginning of a long and memorable journey.  But let’s not forget it’s December, so more than half the team has some interesting and chilly weather conditions to run through in order to be best prepared for the event.

It’s also that time of the year when some runners start to grumble about the dark mornings, ice-cold winds, and sub-zero temperatures.  I can certainly enjoy the bickering and joking among runners, but I also realized that this might be a great coaching opportunity for the Relay team, and any other runner looking for some perspective to make these winter runs a tad more bearable.

Whether it’s sub-zero temperatures, torrential down-pour, or an obnoxiously humid summer day I personally appreciate the variety of weather available to train in. Adversity builds character, and importantly, mental endurance which is surprisingly as valuable as physical endurance for a long distance running event.  If you only run when you want to, or when the weather is ideal, how will you ever be prepared to deal with the mental struggles that arise from adverse conditions?  I believe the best way to prepare yourself for mental difficulties that may arise during a running event is to practice during difficult conditions (whether it be weather related, time-restriction related, relationship-difficulty related, etc).  The longer the distance you’re training for, the more important it is that you don’t let yourself off easy when it comes to training.

From the time I was a young runner I have made a point to go running as I had scheduled in my training plan no matter the conditions (baring lightening).  The most valuable asset to this type of training commitment is proper equipment and fuel.

Since it’s winter, I’m going to outline the equipment I find necessary for myself in order to get my butt out the door despite chilly temps and winds. Every body is different, so as you put together your winter running equipment plan take some time to assess your body and consider what works best for you.  If you don’t know what works best for you, I think it’s safe to adopt a plan where you train with more pieces of equipment then shed layers from there.

My Winter Running Must Haves:


Neck Warmer: I like fleece & “loose” neck warmers for running.  Like this.  If the wind picks up or the air starts to burn my lungs, I can just pull this fleece neck warmer up over my nose for warmer air and am still be able to breath.  I also have a Smartwool neck warmer like this, but find it’s a little too tight.  You can also fold it in half and put it over your ears as an ear warmer.  Or if you wear it and it’s completely too warm you can take it off and fold it twice around your forearm or tuck it in the back of your pants/running tights.

Fleece-lined Hat/Headband:  Of course you want your ears covered, but depending on just how cold it is outside, you may want the top of your head uncovered so you don’t get over heated (yes you can get overheated in the winter!).  I find hats & headbands that are fleece lined just around the ears offer just the right amount of warmth while letting the top of my head stay cooler. I recently bought this headband at Target and absolutely love it!

Gloves:  I like to protect my hands but I also don’t like anything heavy or technical.  Technical gloves, to me, make my hands feel just as cold as if I skipped the gloves all together.  Anything heavy makes me feel weighed down and hot.  My go-to hand equipment for winter is literally the cheap cotton winter gloves you can get at Walgreens, Walmart, or Target for a couple of dollars, like these. To be frank, I can also wipe my nose on these gloves and not feel like I’m wiping snot all over $30 gloves, and they’re super easy to wash.  For the colder days I wear a wind resistant mitten, like this.

If it’s snowing/raining at the time of your run, I recommend wearing a hat, visor, or even ski-goggles (depending on how heavy the snow) to help keep the snow/water out of your eyes.

Upper Body Clothing

T-shirt: I usually grab a cotton t-shirt because it doesn’t wick sweat.  Cotton will hold sweat close to the body, but be aware that once you stop running you will get cold quickly so be ready to strip this layer off asap if you choose a cotton tee.

Two base layers: My base layers are a Lululemon Swiftly Tech long sleeve, and either another Lululemon base layer like this, or thermo shirt like this.

Jacket: A winter jacket for running may be expensive, but is very worth it! I bought this The North Face jacket last year and a I wear it every day in the winter for running.  I don’t mind spending money on running equipment I use every day.

Lower Body Clothing

Two pairs of running tights: I wear a base layer pair of tights like these, and a top layer made of technical fabric like these, or wind resistant fabric like these.

Tall Smartwool Socks: I like to keep my ankles warm, especially on the snowy trails.  And I like that Smartwool keeps your feet warm no matter how wet they get in the snow.  I recommend a few pairs of tall Smartwool socks like these.

Really, a poor equipment or fueling plan can make or break the success of your training and/or your event.  I suggest that if you truly want to be prepared for your event you should train through everything (again, except lightening) to be prepared for everything.

Good luck and run happy : )



  • by ashleyk
  • posted at 2:53 PM
  • December 15, 2013