Winter Running: Gear Up

January 2 2014, 11:30 AM

Meteorologists are predicting that this winter will be packed with snow dumps and surges of arctic air. Skiers may cheer, but all that powder will be a challenge for runners. Gear is the best defense against blowing show, chilling wind, and dropping temperatures. Joel Hamilton from Lakewood’s Runners Roost gave us the scoop on what to wear to make it through the season. 


1. Top it off: You lose more heat through your head that anywhere else, so make sure it’s covered up with a hat or ear warmers. Stick to fleece, wool blend, or poly blend fabrics instead of cotton or acrylics, which tend to hold onto moisture. 

2. Set your sights: If you are running outside in freezing temperatures, a pair of goggles or glasses can help. While ski goggles might be “overkill” unless it is really cold, a good pair of sport sunglasses can block wind and blowing snow, and prevent sun glare from snow and ice. Hamilton recommends a pair with interchangeable lenses, to adjust for time of day and weather conditions.  

3. Chokehold: To protect your neck, look for something made with the same materials you would for hats, but the thinner the better. If you opt for a gator-like mask, it allows the air to heat up a little before it enters your lungs. 

4. Get technical: The closest layer to your skin should be a technical shirt that wicks away moisture. An assortment of both short- and long-sleeved tops allows you to layer appropriately depending on temperature. 

5. Resist: A water- and wind-resistant jacket will serve as a barrier to the elements, but still breathes. A shell should be loose enough to fit multiple layers underneath and allow for easy movement.

6. Warm up: Legs have two options to stay warm: pants or tights. Pants tend to be looser, and tights are, well, tight. Both come in different weights, but tights often have wind-blocking panels built in. If you choose pants, make sure they don’t flare too much at the bottom because they can “snag your feet and take you down.”

7. Sole protection: For your feet, wear socks that aren’t made of cotton. Most days, your regular running shoes are sufficient, however if roads, sidewalks, or trails aren’t clear of snow and ice, extra traction is helpful. Hamilton suggests the coil Yaktrax for city running on concrete and asphalt and a spiked enhancer like a MICROspikes crampon for trails. It is like slipping a studded snow tire on your foot.

8. Shine on: If you are running in the early morning or at night, put on a reflective vest or arm bands. If you choose an armband, secure it on the side of your body closest to oncoming traffic. It will attract more attention there. Bonus: Strap on a headlamp. Hamilton suggests no less than 40 lumens of brightness for city running and more than 80 for trails or places that don’t have light sources such as street lamps. 


TEMPERATURE GUIDE:

The perfect combination is up to you, but Hamilton suggests these combinations when the temperature dips below freezing. 

30 degrees

One light pant or tight, a long-sleeve shirt, and gloves­. Head gear optional.

20 to 30 degrees

Two top layers, one pair of pants or tights, gloves, and hat or ear warmers. 

10 to 20 degrees

Up to three layers on top (including a shell to ward off wind chill from movement), a thick pant or two lighter bottoms, hat, and gloves. A neck warmer is optional.

10 or below

Three layers on top, two pairs of pants or tights, hat, gloves, neck warmer, and pair of glasses or goggles to cover your eyes. At this temperature it is important to “cover as much exposed skin as possible.” 

Bonus: For more tips on winter running, click here

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock