What to Wear

9 Feb

If you haven’t already noticed, its pretty cold outside… and it doesn’t look as if things are set to change anytime soon, with temperatures not reaching much over a few degrees. So the current temperature does not make outside activities very enjoyable or enticing, but I refuse to run on a treadmill for much longer than 10 minutes, as that was never why I started to enjoy running, it was the opportunity of being outside in the fresh air and seeing new places. So in order to get me out of that door I need to know I am going to be warm and comfortable.

But after trailing so many different clothes and sometimes being warm, sometimes becoming too warm and sometimes being uncomfortable for all the layers, I thought some much needed advice would help us all try and get it right. I find I have to tailor my clothing according to the length of run I am going to do too, so its important to know how long you are going to be outside for and what sort of exertion you are going for; is it a long slow run, or is it a fast quick run?

For some, this weather may seem as if running outdoors is completely off-limits, but if you wear the right clothing there is no reason running outdoors can’t still be fun.
Here are tips on what I have learnt along the way and what I chose to wear on my short 4.5 mile run last night as part of my 2012 miles for 2012.

Head and Neck

When its cold we can lose up to 40% of our body heat from our heads, which is why you will never see me running in Winter without a headband usually fleece or wool. Last night I wore a Fat Face Cable Head Band in Grey Marl £12.99. I also wear this in the day, it’s a good headband as its wide, and gives your head a good covering.

Most opt for hats in winter but a thick wool/ fleecy headband is much easier and manageable for those with a long pony tail like mine! A fleece or wool band/ hat is perfect for keeping your head warm during winter runs, and you can easily tuck it into your bottoms/ pocket if you feel like you’re starting to overheat, feels unlikely in this weather, but you would be surprised. I find its also a good way of keeping my ears warm too.

 

 

Chapstick/VaselineProtect your lips from chapping with some Chapstick or Vaseline. You can also use the Vaseline on your nose and cheeks (or anywhere else on your face) to prevent windburn and chapping. I apply this before I go out.

Upper Body

The key to winter running dressing, especially with your upper body, is layering. Not only do layers trap body heat, they also allow sweat to move through the layers of your clothing. The moisture is wicked away from your first layer to your outer layers, and then evaporates.

Here’s how you can layer your upper body:

Wicking Base LayerThe layer closest to your body should be made from a synthetic wicking material, such as DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, polypropolene, or silk. This will wick the sweat away from your body, keeping you dry and warm. There is nothing worse than cotton for this layer because once it gets wet, you’ll stay wet. When it’s above 40 degrees F, you can usually wear just a long-sleeve base layer.

I chose to opt for my my Sweaty BettyBurn Up Thermal L/S Top £65.00

 

This is a long-sleeved thermal running top in insulating brushed-back fabric with breathable under arm mesh panels, ergonomic cuffs with thumb holes and innovative reflective seams to keep you seen on the move. High neck with contrast half zip. This is a fantastic top which guarantees to keep you warm in the winter, and it takes me through to early spring worn on its own. It also benefits thumb holes if you didn’t want to wear gloves, or if you wanted to ensure your arms were fully covered.

Insulating Layer: Your second or middle layer, which is needed for very cold weather (below 10 degrees F), should be an insulating material, such as fleece. This layer must continue wicking moisture away from the skin. It should have the perfect balance of trapping some air to keep your warm, yet release enough vapor or heat to avoid overheating. Some fabrics suggested for your second layer: Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece and Thermax.

 

So for my insulating/ middle layer I chose to wear my Sweaty Betty Protector Gilet £55.00

It’s a very lightweight, shower resistant gilet that stows away in its back pocket. Reflective detail at the neckline, elastic binding at hem and shoulder cuffs. Ideal for transitional weather and so light you should take it on all runs. This isn’t fleece, but is an extra layer  and traps the warmth of my body. This is another great design by Sweaty Betty who always guarantee to make your running clothing fun and quirky, keeping you looking stylish whilst pounding the pavements. This is another great edition to my running wardrobe as it will easily take me through to spring and some cooler summer evening runs. I think this is a reasonable price too for the amount of wear you could get out of this gilet.

Wind- and Water-proof Outer Layer: This layer should protect you against wind and moisture (rain, sleet, snow), but at the same time allow both heat and moisture to escape to prevent both overheating and chilling. It’s a good idea to wear a jacket with a zipper for this layer, so that you can regulate your temperature by zipping it up and down. Suggested outer layers: ClimaFit, Gore-Tex, Microsuplex, nylon, Supplex, and Windstopper. If it’s between 10 and 40 degrees F, you can usually get away with a wicking base layer and an outer layer.
So as my outer layer I chose to wear my trusty Sweaty Betty Protector Jacket £65.00.

This jacket is one of my favourite jackets. I am prone to wearing black, which in the dark isn’t always safe and I can’t always be seen but this jacket has some great reflective feature fastenings whilst also allowing me to still wear my favourite colour… black! It’s very lightweight, and shower resistant, that stows away in its own back pocket. It boasts pleated detailing at the neck line and elastic binding at hem & sleeve cuffs so doesn’t let too much wind in. This jacket is so light you can take it on almost all runs. I don’t like to wear jackets that are too thick, and Sweaty betty do some fantastic light weight jackets like this Protector jacket and once again I think you’d agree its a reasonable price and wont break the bank for a funky, cool and comfortable running jacket, that you could also wear too and from the gym.

Gloves/Mittens: You can lose as much as 30% of your body heat through your extremities, so it’s important to cover your hands. On cold days, wear gloves that wick away moisture. When it’s extremely cold, mittens are a better choice because your fingers will share their body heat.

I adore my North Face running gloves, sad isn’t it! …but I have now had these for two whole winters. My husband bought them for me as a christmas present, and they have been one of the best pair of running gloves I have ever had.

You can still work your smart phone, MP3 player with warm fingers in these gloves. The stretch knit shell is ideal for three season wear. They can also be used for a number of other outdoor activities and I have also used mine for horse riding.

Below: The North Face Etip Glove – Large TNF Black, Running Gloves

Lower Body

Tights/Running Bottoms: Your legs generate a lot of heat so you don’t need as many layers on your lower body. You can usually wear just a pair of tights or running pants made of synthetic material such as Thermion, Thinsulate, Thermax, Coolmax, polypropolene, and/or silk. If it’s below 10 degrees F (temperature or wind chill), you may want to consider two layers on your lower body: a wicking layer of tights, and a wind-proof layer such as track pants.

I normally stick to longies in the winter, and look forward to spring when I can get my 3/4 bottoms back out. I reccomend these DoRunning bottoms £29.99, which kept me warm last night. The only problem I have found with them is that I am 5’9 and I find they are not that long on the leg, but this isn’t really a problem in winter as I always wear long socks, or compressions socks

Shoes: Your feet stay pretty warm whatever the weather, as long as you keep them moving and dry. Try to avoid puddles, slush, and snow. Look for a running shoe with as little mesh as possible, as that is where the water will seep through to your feet. Or, if you can’t avoid running in the snow, you may want to think about buying trail running shoes, which are ‘nearly’ water-proof and will give you a little more traction in the snow. You may also want to try YakTrax Ice Grippers or Ice Spikes, which slip right over your running shoes for added traction.

I am well overdue a new pair of trainers and trying to seize the opportunity to get fitted up at my local running shop RunAround Sports. I have run past the window a few times and seen some fantastic new styles on display just like these Adidas Supernova Glide 3  You wouldn’t be missed in these!

I over pronate so need something supportive, often restricting my choice of styles, but my running store is always on hand to try and find me something I like. I strongly recommend you have your gait analysed before purchasing a pair of trainers if you are thinking of putting in the miles. Most running stores offer this service for free.

Here is a useful article from Runner’s World who produced a Spring 2011 running shoes guide to find the best running shoe for you.

Socks: Never wear cotton socks (in cold or warm weather) when running because they won’t wick away the moisture, leaving your feet wet and prone to blisters. Instead, be sure to wear a good pair of wicking socks made of fabrics such as acrylic, CoolMax, or wool (in the winter). Or wear compression socks, which is what I wore last night as I have really been suffering lately from Lactic Acid which can at times be crippling.

Nike elite Compression socks £11.99

I was such a sceptic when my local running store, Runaround Sports introduced these socks to me, after complaining of lactic acid but I can not tell you what a difference these socks have made. I would now never run a half marathon or long distance run without them again.

So now you have no excuses and will be all set to brave the cold and get out there. I will be doing it all over again over the next few days and making sure I wrap up warm with all the essential gear, for maximum performance but more importantly maximum comfort. If you are prepared and have the right gear then theres no excuse!

Do you have any tips on what to wear in the cold?

To date I have run 126 miles (mainly in the cold!), 1,886 miles left to run. I’m behind on my target for 35 plus miles a week.

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