What to Wear When Running in Winter

Winter running can seem like the most unappealing type of exercise. You look outside and it’s dark, cold and probably wet. Nothing is less desirable.

But it is true what they say: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. The one thing that winter running has above summer running is that it gets better the longer you run. If you’ve ever run on a beautifully sunny day you’ll know how hard it can suddenly become after that first mile. You start to get hot, the sun is beating in your face, you sweat, you’re thirsty… it sucks basically. But at least with winter, though it may look pretty rubbish and miserable, once you get going it’s actually not too bad. As long as you’re prepared.

When it comes to what to wear for winter running, you really do have a lot of choice. The temptation is of course to wear lots of layers so the minute you step outside you’re not cold at all… but within a mile you’re ridiculously warm and sweating. Ideally you want to be cold before you get going, because you will warm up. That first mile might feel horrendous but it does get better.

To give you some tips and guidance for what you could wear for running in the winter, I’ve teamed up with Decathlon, the sports products company.

I tend to graduate my running outfits as it gets colder and colder. So for the beginning of winter I’ll probably choose a long sleeved but fairly thin layer, like the Alenji Kalenji Elio long sleeved jersey.

Having a half-way zip is ideal because you can have it done right to the top as you start but then undo it as you get more warm to provide a bit more ventilation. Also, having thumb holes in the sleeves is a great compromise when it’s not quite cold enough for gloves. Ideally you also want a top that has reflective bits on it, especially as the nights and mornings get darker.

The Kalenji Evolutiv jersey is a step above providing more protection from rain but also has a handy ventilation section where you can uncover the arms and/or chest. You can see in the first picture of the three tops with the arms and chest done up (middle picture) and then how it looks when unzipped (photo above). This is great for those who can’t make their minds up what to wear!

Obviously keeping warm and dry is a high priority for runners, but so is being seen and keeping safe. Having high-vis gear on is essential when it’s pitch black outside. Yes you’re probably running on the pavement and there is street light but by making yourself visible you’re doing yourself and everyone around you a favour. When you run across a road, or run towards a pedestrian, it’s essential to be seen to avoid any nasty collisions or accidents.

The Kalenji Ekiden jacket is a great lightweight high-vis jacket that can definitely help with this. It’s not too thick to be overbearing, heavy or too warm, but it will protect you from the wind and rain while making yourself visible to those around you.

For most of the year I’ll stick with wearing shorts as my legs never get that cold. But when it does get really bitter then I’ll switch to either a pair of capris or long length leggings. There’s nothing worse than numb legs!!

The Kalenji Ekiden running tights are inexpensive (£9.99!) and perfect for those really cold days when you just can’t face bearing your legs.

But the one thing I cannot be without are gloves during the winter. The rest of me might be sweating and seriously hot, but my hands never warm up. I wear gloves pretty much November onwards.

The Kalenji Retro-Reflective gloves are great because not only will they keep your hands warm but they’ll also give a bit more high-vis to your hopefully already high-vis’ed up outfit ;-)And in terms of running accessories, I’m a huge fan of wearing lights. Either a head torch (though I do find this annoying as they always tend to bob about on my head) or by attaching some sort of LED to my clothing.

The Kalenji Run Light is a handy way to make yourself super visible. You just put it over your top layer and you’re good to go. It provides visibility up to 20m ahead of you and it comesw wth a rechargeable battery (though it does last 5 hours). What I really like is that it has rear flashing lights as well, so you’re fully covered.

So basically my key points are:

  • Be seen, either using high-vis clothing or lights (ideally both)
  • Avoid wearing thick layers; you want to be cold when you begin because you will warm up
  • Look for material that is wicking and will protect you from the rain and wind, like a light-weight jacket
  • Wear gloves

How do you stay warm during winter running?

What are your top running accessories?

How do you stay visible running/exercising the dark?

**Full Disclaimer: I was given a Decathlon voucher to spend in their shop in return for this article. All opinions are my own.**

10 Replies to “What to Wear When Running in Winter”

  1. That’s so funny that your hands stay cold but your legs never do- I wore shorter tights on Tuesday night and my ankles were cold the whole time, but I took my gloves off after about 10 mins! What I would like is a thermal sports bra, because of course, fat never warms up, only the muscle does, so that part of my body stays freezing cold for the whole run. The temperature change has been so sudden- last week I wore a t-shirt to parkrun, and on Tuesday I wore 3 layers and kept them on for the whole time.
    I like a buff as my neck gets cold, and my skin gets super sore when it gets cold too.
    You are so right about staying visible too- a lot of paths near me are bike paths too, and they can come up very quickly on you, so it’s vital to be seen. High viz/reflective is good, but you are relying on a light shining on you, so lights are better as then everyone can see you.
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…November?My Profile

  2. I don’t run outside much anymore now that I moved to a place that has actual seasons, but when I ran in LA in the AM [it would be like high 50s] I had some really warm leggings that I loved to wear! I sweat a lot so I don’t need to bundle too much but these leggings were lined with the fuzziest and warmest material. I loved them!
    kat recently posted…Kettlebell Low Impact WorkoutMy Profile

  3. I am frequently cold on the hands, torso, and -as a commented above has said- the boobs! Particularly nips. I support the idea of thermal sports bras!

    Like you, I can wear shorts forever. If my torso is warm, I’m fine.

    It does annoy me that I over dress and then 10 mins in I’m sweating my arse off.

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