My first run of 2011 took place in -28˚C, with a windchill of -32˚C. I felt fantastic, warm and comfortable for the entire run. How, you ask? Let me show you!
When it is very cold, the only way to survive a run is to dress properly for it. Truth be told these, the most freezing days of the winter, are my favorite days to run. It took me a long time to find the right balance of clothing. I’ve been just like Goldilocks and her porridge: too hot, too cold. At long last, I think I’ve finally found my Baby Bear of a midwinter running outfit – just right.
Layer The First
If you recall my last running post, much of this outfit will likely seem familiar. Some won’t. But it is as much how you wear a winter running outfit as what you wear.
The first layer :
- wool socks from Smart Wool (these are the only socks I need, from late fall – when I stop wearing my Vibram Five Fingers – to mid-spring – when I start wearing my Vibram Five Fingers)
- technical winter running tights from lululemon (similar from lululemon, similar from Under Armour, similar from MEC, similar from Running Room)
- a Cool Racerback tank from lululemon
- headband from lululemon - any will do, I just like that this one is pink
TIP: Tuck your tank top into your tights. This will help to keep the tank from riding up. You don’t want that to happen because you really want a warm belly. Whenever my tank rides up, even though it is just one layer, my belly gets a minor case of frostbite (I call it frostnibbles). Not pleasant.
Layer the Second
Added to the mix are a pair of Gym Johns – thick cotton tights from lululemon (they no longer make them, but there is an eBay shop that sells them). For my upper body, I add a technical long sleeved mid-layer top (similar from lululemon). This top is made from a running-specific version of lululemon’s signature fabric luon, it is warm, soft and fuzzy – perfect mid-layer for a frigid day.
I normally do not condone running in cotton, it holds moisture and promotes chafing worse than any other fabric (seriously, dudes – enough with the white cotton tee-shirts while running… I’ve seen more than enough bleeding nipples in my time, I do not need to see any more). I find that the technical tights ALONE aren’t quite enough when exposed skin can freeze in a matter of minutes (however, the decision to wear an additional layer on my legs is made based solely on the windchill factor – if the windchill is -25˚C or colder, two layers, anything under and I personally don’t need to wear a second layer. I think that’s subjective, however). I’ll wear any pair of pants on top of the tech tights, but these ones work perfectly for me (I’ll also layer a pair of lululemon’s Groove Pants over the technical tights).
Layer the Third
The outer layer is the one that makes the biggest difference to my run. Specifically, my running jacket. The kind of winter running jacket a person chooses is highly individualistic. I personally like this fitted Boost Jacket from lululemon atheltica. The polkadots are über reflective, there are moisture wicking panels in high sweat zones, and venting in the back to help release that warm sweatiness. However, there are a TON of people who swear by the Running Room unisex reflective jacket with pockets. I personally prefer running in a fitted jacket, but to each their own! As my specific jacket hasn’t been made for three years, the Outward Bound Jacket, the Hustle Jacket and the Reflection Pullover from lululemon all have very similar features to my Boost Jacket.
Of course, I always wear my Buff, my trusty, wonderful Buff. And top it off with my Mitten-Gloves from lululemon to keep my fingers toasty.
Now, don’t forget…
See how shiny my face is? VASELINE! Prevents frozen face skin. Very useful.
TIP: I safety pin my Buff to my Headband. This prevents the freezing and frigid wind from making its way down your neck, and also helps to keep the Buff up on your face as your run. So does the Vaseline (Vaseline is kind of sticky).
One last thing! Some people run with cleats or spikes on their shoes so that you don’t slip-slide around as much. I am opposed to this practice. It can mess with the bottom of your feet because it changes the way that the cushioning in the bottom of the shoe feels against the bottom of your foot. It messes with your foot strike. Your specific foot strike is unique to the way that you run – a heavy heel strike isn’t a good thing, but it is the way that you run. You’re much more likely to injure yourself if you change your foot strike dramatically, even if your foot strike often leads to injury – this is one of the reasons why when you first start wearing Vibram Five Fingers you can only wear them for short periods of time in the beginning. And not wearing cleats or spikes will actually give you a better all-over body workout. You have to use more stabilizing muscles when you run in the winter, and working more muscles is always a good thing.