Running In The Cold, What To Wear!

I got a fantastic question on my blog post about the Jingle All The Way 10K I did, about what to wear for cold weather running to stay warm.

So I decided to blog for all of you what I am learning.  I have to say though, finding gear that fits and doesn’t completely slaughter my budget is tough.  Luckily, you don’t need much and if you can’t afford anything, you can always layer it up like crazy!

1.  Cold weather running can be enjoyable, once you get past the mental hurdle.  After last Saturday’s run, I have learned this and will likely quickly forget it when it comes time to run in frigid temps again.  At least I have this.

2.  A tip I got from my running class instructors was that you should dress for 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature.  This allows for the increase in body temperature.

3.  Another tip I got was to dress in layers and in things that have ventilation openings in case you over dressed.  i.e a short with a half zip on it or a wind breaker with vents built into it.

4.  Invest in at least one fancy pants tech shirt that has that special wicking material etc.  I say invest because they are expensive and I certainly plan on being 3-4 sizes smaller by next winter so my shirt will be good for one winter.  That is it!

Here is the trouble I have found.  Fancy pants investment pieces not only are expensive but the makers of them seem to think that only small people will use them which of course only discourages all of us “bigger” folks from even trying.   I also hate buying online without either having tried it on or actually checked out the material etc.   I know there are size charts but quite frankly I know my weight, not my hip circumference!

I took a class at my local running store where they talked about all the different kinds of layering pieces and how to dress and whatnot.  Then I went in search of stuff that would fit and was on sale.

I happened to find my Patagonia Capilene 3 Base layer shirt at REI and even with 30% off it was still almost 40 bucks! (Investment piece!)  Patagonia has a rating system of 1-4 for their Capilene line.  1 is for the summer and 4 is for the coldest of cold!  I chose 3 and man, I get hot in that sucker.  The downside is that they only go up to a 2x in mens and it is a “athletic fit” shirt which means it is going to be snug.  Let me tell you, there is nothing attractive about a girl my size stuffed into a shirt like this, however warmth is the goal, not looks.  Besides that, it is a base layer, that is meant to wick the sweat away from you and keep you dry and warm.  Another shirt that actually fits me or is too big actually goes over top of this.

I wore this and my running pants for the Thanksgiving Day run and was more than fine.  The temps that day were about 35 degrees.  Now for the run I did last Saturday, I added a 3rd shirt and a 2nd pair of pants into the mix as the temps were in the 20’s with a windchill in the teens.  I don’t have a windbreaker so I likely won’t run outside if it is crazy windy until I can get one.  Frankly the one I want though is 120 bucks so I likely won’t get it until I am MUCH closer to goal.

My ears get covered typically with a headband that I got from the running store that has that wicking material.  It is thin, but does the job.  Again though, for the really frigid temps I added a face mask but didn’t even use the face cover.  It basically turned into a hat for me.

Feet.  I am learning the wonders of smart wool.  Smart wool socks seem to keep my feet most warm.  However on Saturday I couldn’t find them so I was wearing cotton socks.  I think that had something to do with why my feet got as cold as they did.  Smart wool is also expensive.  I own one pair.  Perhaps I will get more for Christmas!  Those will go with me to any size!!

Gloves.  Sigh.  I want a pair of lightweight running gloves that have the windbreaker material on them.  For now, I either use my regular gloves that tend to make my hands too hot…or I pull them up into my sleeves.

Pants. Regular old sweat pants is what I have.  I hear there are fancy pants with wicking material and all that good stuff that are really more like tights.  I cannot imagine the sight of ME in tights though, nor can I find any to fit me yet.  So for now, I have what I have.

Egads!  As I write this I realize I am becoming a tech gear junkie as I think about all the items I want.  And this is just for running!  Soon I will be outfitting for biking and swimming too!  Coach told me I would get to this point and I denied it!  Hmmmm what are the chances he won’t read this post?   Not likely, he reads them all, eventually.  So then what are the chances of me NOT hearing, I told you so?  Not likely.  He likes to be right, as do we all!

So far my favorite places to find things I need are at or

Good Luck finding running gear.  If you have more questions, let me know.  If I don’t know…Coach might…or someone around here will know!


7 thoughts on “Running In The Cold, What To Wear!

      • I found out that I am lusting after a shirt with little thumb holes on the bottom of the sleeves. I have no idea what they are for, but I want one! Also, I found out that I will make do with what I have because EXPENSIVE is right. I’ll spend the big bucks when I am not hiding under huge sweatshirts anymore. (Soon!)

        • yes, I lust for a shirt with thumbholes as well!! They help keep the shirt sleeves down and some measure of hand warmth on a slightly chilly day that doesnt quite require gloves.

          I knwo it is expensive but I do suggest ONE wicking shirt….You will be amazed at how much warmer you are when the sweat is wicked away from your body. Allegedly they sell some of this special material workout gear at places like walmart and target, but I have yet to find them in my size. If you find them in a non-specialty store, let me know.

    • ahh Torey…alas I do not have a Rack store close to me…I suppose I could go al teh way to Troy…..hmmmm but smart wool on sale….how good a sale is it? and what exactly?? Socks??

  1. Oh, a very informative post! I know what you mean about the fancy brands making running clothes for women who are tiny. I recently bought some running pants for outside running (which I have yet to try) and they are SO TIGHT even thought they’re an extra large.

    I think I will use some of these tips to give outdoor running a whirl. Question, since you’re running 10K’s and you’re not on the treadmill, how do you stay on pace? That’s the number one reason I haven’t moved to outdoor running. I’m worried I will run too fast/too slow and I won’t get an accurate workout.

    And one last thing for my endless comment. Send me an email to chat about meeting up to run the half marathon in April! I need something to train for, and that sounds awesome!!!!

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