runwinterI’ve had a few people ask me recently about what type of clothing is best for cold weather running. So, I thought I’d put together a guide for all types of weather. Choosing the proper clothing and gear is important to your performance, your safety and your enjoyment.

Remember the classic runner’s rule: Always add 20 degrees (F) to the temperature outside, and then dress appropriately. Example: If it is 72 degrees outside, it will feel like 92 degrees during your run.

sunAbove 85 F (29.4 C)

  • At this temperature run with as little on as possible without upsetting your neighbors or the local authorities. Hydrate often during your run, run a course that allows for you to stop and get home quickly without being stranded too far from home (repeat loops). Let someone know you’re out there before leaving.
  • Try to run in the early morning or early evening hours to avoid the hottest part of the day. Watch for signs of  overheating. Think about taking the day off or going for a swim.
  • Shoes, socks, shorts, sunglasses, sunscreen, visor or cap (pre-soaked and frozen)
  • Phone in case of emergency or injury.

sun75 to 84 F (23.8 to 28.8 C)

  • Remember that your body will heat up quickly on the run. You’ll want to hydrate appropriately and avoid the midday heat if possible. Wear reflective gear if you are headed out before sunrise or after sunset.
  • Shoes, socks, shorts, sunglasses, sunscreen, visor or cap, singlet or tech t-shirt optional

thumbs-up60 to 74 F (15.5 to 23.3 C)

  • This is a nice temperature for running. Enjoy the experience.
  • Shoes, socks, shorts, tech t-shirt, sunscreen

thumbs-up45 to 59 F (7.2 to 15 C)

  • Great racing weather! Marathoners and half marathoners rejoice. These days were made for PRs. You’ll want to warm up with an extra layer and have it ready to put back on when you finish.
  • Shoes, socks, shorts, long sleeve or short sleeve tech shirt, sunscreen, light jacket for warm-up

thumbs-up35 to 44 F (1.7 to 6.7 C)

  • These temps may be a bit too cool for the spectators, but the runners are still feeling great. Be sure to stay warm before and after your run with a jacket and sweatpants. You might consider a pair of light gloves and a beanie. The most dangerous part of the day is post-run if you are sweaty and exposed.
  • Shoes, socks, shorts, long sleeve shirt, light gloves, beanie, lip balm, pants and jacket for warm-up and post-race
  • light leggings are optional for those who are averse to the cooler temperatures

snowflake25 to 34 F (-3.8 to 1.1 C)

  • Welcome to winter running! The temps may be dropping, but that doesn’t mean you have to drop your mileage. Layers are key when dressing to survive cold temperatures. But, you don’t want to sweat too much, so be sure to wear breathable layers made for running.
  • Shoes, socks (wool), leggings/tights, tech t-shirt, running jacket, gloves/mittens, beanie, Vaseline on face, lip balm

snowflakeBelow 25 F (-3.9 C)

  • This is when you start to consider the benefits of a gym membership or a treadmill. Only the truly dedicated/crazy ones are out there on days like this. But some of us can’t be caged and just need to be free. Choose a course that allows for you to return home quickly if you need to (repeat loops). Let someone know you are out there before you leave.
  • Shoes, socks (wool), leggings/tights with shorts over them, long sleeve tech shirt, additional tech t-shirt, running jacket, mittens, beanie that covers your ears, neck warmer or collar turned up on jacket, Vaseline on your face, lip balm, sunglasses.
  • Phone in case of emergency or injury.

Rain

  • Wear a hat to keep the rain out of your eyes
  • consider nip guards or bandaids to avoid painful chafing from heavy wet clothing
  • Vaseline on other chafing areas
  • Waterproof shell if temperatures allow it
  • No shirt if temperatures (and local laws and customs) allow it
  • Vaseline on toes and heels

Snow

  • Winter gear (see above)
  • Reflective safety clothing
  • Shoes with modified spikes or non-slip treads attached
  • Ace bandage or gaters wrapped around your ankles if the snow is deep enough to get in your shoe and cause discomfort
  • Vaseline on face
  • Lip balm

Wind

  • Windbreaker if appropriate
  • Sunglasses
  • Vaseline on face
  • Lip balm

T-Storms, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Typhoons, etc.

Stay inside and wait for the storm to pass. These conditions are too dangerous for anyone to be out running on the roads or trails. Always use good judgement and stay safe to run again another day.

Other ideas? What did I forget to mention? Let me know in the comment section.

SaltmarshRunning.com – Run For Your Life!

10 thoughts on “What to wear on your next run: A guide for every climate

  1. Hey, I wonder if you have any experience running on salted roads and sidewalks? Does the salt damage running shoes? Thanks!

    1. Sheila, Road salt is definitely an issue in New England. It leaves white stains all over the toes and sides of running shoes. You can clean them 2 ways. Wash them on delicate cycle in your washing machine and set by the wood stove/heater to dry, or just take an old rag soaked in hot water and wipe them off. Hope that helps!

Thoughts?