It’s true: the cold weather is right around the corner. And some days, it feels like it has arrived already. If you’re in a cold climate, you know it means it’s time to dig out the boots, the cozy knits and big wool scarves. For many people though, it’s also the time to put away the runners and hibernate from outdoor exercise. I am totally not one of those people! I love running outside in the winter, and after last winter’s lessons in running, I’m starting this year with everything in place. And if you add these items to your wardrobe, you can too!
A good baselayer – Sometimes, when it’s cold out, no matter how many layers you pile on top, if you don’t have a good base layer, you’re going to always feel cold. The idea of a base layer is that it sits right next to your skin and acts as the first barrier to remove sweat when you start to heat up. In the colder weather, our bodies can do a great job of warming us up, but if we’re wrapped in wet sweat clothes, they get cold and then we get cold. This base layer is key in making sure that sweat is removed from the skin and wicked to the air so that we aren’t encased in this little ice box when we’re halfway through a run. My favourite is a merino wool base layer such as Icebreaker.
A neck Warmer – There’s nothing worse than having a cold wind blowing down your neck. It sends chills right down your spine and can make for a completely miserable run. Do yourself a favour and invest in a neck wamer (or balaclava for when it’s really cold out!), and you’ll solve all the problems. I typically wear mine underneath my top layer, but over top of my base layer to ensure no winter winds can get in!
Smartwool Socks – I’m from the east coast of Canada, so I’ve spent my fair share of time running in freezing cold temperatures and in just about every condition imaginable when it comes to winter precipitation. And though I’ve tried different socks and had different shoes, the one constant I’ve always come back to is Smartwool PhD running socks. They’re made of merino wool, so they’re warm, but they still wick moisture from your sweaty feet. And the best part is, when your feet get wet from the snow and slushy streets, they warm them up quickly!
Mittens – No not gloves. While they may seem more practical in terms of using your iPod, changing the song on your phone etc., mittens do a far better job of keeping your hands warm, because they contain all the heat in one pocket and your hand sits inside the pocket staying nice and toasty warm. In the early winter/late fall months, I have a pair of lined gloves that I wear, but by December, I usually convert over to mittens. If possible, find a pair that are moisture wicking so that your hands don’t get sweaty and end up cold from the moisture.
Toque – This one is probably obvious, but invest in a warm, moisture wicking hat for your runs. You lose most of the heat through your head, so if it’s cold out and you’re running without one, you’ll probably have a hard time staying warm. Likewise, if you get too hot while you’re running, just take off your hat for a bit and you will cool down!
Lined Tights – Before I discovered lined tights, I used to either run in two pairs, or just suffer through with one and come home with the tops of my quads completely numb from the cold. But they’re totally a thing and they make a huge difference. Depending on how cold it is where you will be running will depend on how thick you need the lining to be. Try out a few different pairs in the store and see what you like! I buy mine at Mountain Equipment Co-op (if you’re Canadian), or Lululemon, or have a look at your local outdoor store to see what they offer.