If you're a runner, there's no need to let the winter months put an end to your favorite exercise. Sure, it's cold, often wet, usually muddy, and the mornings and evenings are darker, but winter running is all about equipping yourself with the right gear. As British author and fallen hiker Alfred Wainwright famously put it, "There is no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing."
Aside from the dark hours of the morning (I'm an early riser by nature, so much prefer to get up early), I love running in the winter months. There is nothing more invigorating than going out while the sun is rising, when the world is still sleeping and no one but me and my dog are on the forest trails – it's bliss. Granted, it's harder to get motivated when you absolutely toss it down, but the hardest part is getting out the door. Once I'm out there I don't mind the rain as long as I put on a waterproof jacket and baseball cap to keep the rain out of my eyes. In some ways it makes me feel even more amazing!
The lovely folks at Dare2B sent me some of their running clothes to try out, so I've compiled a kit list of the running clothes that will keep me going this winter, as well as some time-tested old favorites.
1. A waterproof jacket
One thing we are used to in this country is the changeable weather. One minute there is sun, the next it is raining, hailing, snowing, as you call it, we get it all, so a waterproof jacket is an absolute must for every experienced runner. Now I have to admit that when I run I only wear black and dark clothes (well, it's great to lose weight, isn't it!) But that's really not ideal at this time of year when the light isn't that good. And so that The light, reflective, waterproof jacket in hallway yellow is perfect in many ways – you certainly won't miss me here!
In addition to the fact that it's probably the lightest color on the planet, the jacket also features reflective trim in key places to make you more visible to traffic. This garment technology is known as Bio Motion and it highlights the areas that are moving the most. Essentially, you create your own reflective flashing light. Speaking of which, there is also an attachment for an LED light on the back of the jacket – you really have thought of everything!
What else is good about this jacket? So it is …
And it also has:
- Lots of vents for airflow
- A large zipped pocket on the back
- One breast pocket with zipper
- A quick adjustment neck closure to keep the cold breeze out.
I haven't found a jacket that is completely waterproof and won't make you sweat, but in terms of being seen and giving a layer of protection that isn't too heavy, this jacket works really well.
You could have the lightest and brightest reflective jacket in the whole kingdom, but if you're running in the dark you should really think about getting yourself some lights. It's not just about being seen, it's about seeing – you will be surprised how many runners are injured by tripping on potholes, sliding on leaves, or falling off curbs just because the light wasn't good. There are a few different options when it comes to light and it ultimately comes down to personal preference and what feels most comfortable / least annoying to you.
I use a full body light belt that has a forward-facing light with two different intensities and flashing options, as well as a red taillight that can also be set to flash if necessary. It can be charged via a USB cable and has three lights that charge to let you know when it is fully charged. And once it's fully charged, I'd say it can easily keep me going for about four evening runs, possibly more. The strap simply fits over your shoulders and then attaches to your chest. It can be easily adjusted. My only problem with this is that it is not easy to put on and take off if you are looking to peel off layers in the medium term, but it is a small price to pay for the benefits of this type of light.
Other light options include; Head torches, hats with built-in lights and of course always a small torch. Having a light on your head is great in that it really makes you stand out and directs the light where you need it. Personally, however, I found it uncomfortable to wear one and it seemed to slide off forever. Likewise, holding a flashlight is great for directing light where you need it, but having to hold something while running is annoying. As I said, it's a personal preference.
The winter run is all about the shifts. The first time you hit the road, you'll be freezing so you'll need lots of nice warm layers. And after that, you will cool down very quickly and you will be so grateful for the extra warmth. As you increase the intensity as you run, you'll be amazed at how quickly you warm up and you want to remove these layers as quickly and easily as possible.
I usually like to wear long sleeved underwear under a t-shirt and then a zipped jacket over it. I prefer a zippered jacket over a hoodie as it is easier to take off, especially if you are wearing a hat. This merino The zippered wool / polyester jacket is a great example of what to wear as a midlayer. It's made of a really soft and stretchy material which means it doesn't restrict movement and because it is so light when you have to take it off and tie it around your waist that it hugs your body rather than flapping around when you do to run. The Woolwic Plus inserts also help wick moisture away from the skin so you don't get the terrible sweaty moisture that can often come with wearing layers.
The jacket also looks super stylish, which I'm totally done with. I know it's not about how you look when you run – Jesus Christ, I have a pretty bumpy red sweaty face most of the time, but as the saying goes, when you look good you feel good and that definitely gives me all Feelings. I also love a bag, and as a dog owner and someone who runs with pooch, bags are everything. I need my cell phone somewhere, poop bags, treats and a tissue (someone else's nose is always running at this time of year!?!?) So that bags are a must for me. I've run with a waistband before to stash things like this, but with the dog's harness around my waist it can feel very bulky and I play around with it forever to get comfortable. So yeah, bags are important. This jacket has two decent zipped pockets that fit everything I need.
I wore this pink Dare2B under the jacket Wool t-shirt with a long-sleeved top underneath. The great thing about this t-shirt is that it will keep you warm while also wicking away the sweaty moisture because it is made from a mix of merino wool and polyester. Not only do you feel good longer, you are also far less pongy for longer. It also washes very well and dries super quick too.
There's nothing worse than having cold hands, right? That horrible feeling when your hands are so cold you can barely feel your fingers and when you are in for too long it can actually become very painful. A decent pair of gloves is an absolute must for cold weather in my opinion.
Now of course you could wear a standard pair of woolen gloves, but I prefer to wear athletic gloves instead and I'll tell you why. First, they're not too warm. I know this sounds crazy considering the importance of keeping your hands warm, but you will soon warm up and sweaty hands aren't the least bit beautiful. You want warmth, but you also want stretch and some kind of moisture wicking element. It is also very useful to have these parts on your fingers that you can keep using your phone with. So look out for a pair with this particular feature.
5. Neck seal
I would recommend wearing a neck seal (sometimes called a buff, snood, or neck bandana) in the winter, especially if you have short hair or if you wear your hair tied up while running and your neck is exposed.
I now own a number of different neck warmers, but there is one special feature about this fluffy neck seal from Dare2B that I absolutely love. I've noticed that my neck warmers get a bit baggy over time when they're stretched over my head to put them on and take off. However, this one has a pretty nifty gag that you can use to properly pinch it so it fits snugly around your neck. The nice thing about it is that it's big enough to slide over your head without the risk of overstretching it. Once it's adjusted, it keeps out all the cold winter breezes – it's brilliant!
Neck gaiters also serve as an emergency layer mask when you feel the need for a coffee after a run, which of course most of us do 😉
6. Decent footwear
If there's one thing you should spend your money on, it's coaches. Decent, well-fitting, and functional treadmills will help you avoid injuries, make running more comfortable for you, and, frankly, keep you running and having fun. If you've been running for a while, you've probably already found the coach brand that best fits your feet. I've been an ASICS girl since I had a biometric test at one of my local sports stores showing you how to run to see if your feet are pronating. I've worn them since and am now with my fourth pair – all I know is that they work for me. I always choose a hybrid pair because it is versatile enough to be used on and off-road. My last pair also contains some Goretex which helps a bit with the muddy fields and trails I stomp through, but even then they are not 100% waterproof as I found out. For this reason, it's also a good idea to have a thick pair of running socks, and ideally in black, since white will simply ruin.
9. A good selection of hats
I would say that I wear a hat 9 out of 10 times when I run. Now, for the most part, I'm not going to lie to hide the condition of my hair – what can I say, I'm lazy and don't see the point in spending time making my hair look decent when I could just bunch it up and down hide it under a hat.
Unless it's super cold. In this case, I would wear a knitted hat or a bobble hat. I usually wear a baseball cap because I like the fact that my ponytail can fit through the gap in the back. Another benefit of this type of hat is the summit, which is great at protecting your eyes from rain and snow, and also protecting you from the glare of early morning winter sunshine when it decides to show up.
Hats are usually quite cheap and you definitely don't need anything special. So it's worth making a selection. They can also get a little nervous after a while, so it's good to have a few spare parts while the others are in the wash.
8. Good leggings
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of running leggings out there. So how do you know which ones are good for winter running, and are there really so many differences between one pair of leggings and another?
Of course, aside from what they look like, that's totally important. When the temperature drops, you may want more than your usual lycra. One option is to wear panties under your regular leggings. However, I find that this can be a little uncomfortable. An alternative is to invest in a pair of thermal fleece-lined leggings to keep your leggies warm and toasted as you run. They still have some stretchy lycra in them, but they give you that extra layer of warmth and stop the terrible cold, but warm, itchy feeling that can sometimes occur when it's really cold.
The only other thing I want to mention about leggings is that some designs have reflective stripes or patterns on them. These are absolutely brilliant for you to be seen better. If you look at them in daylight, you won't even notice. So don't worry about them looking weird, but when car headlights shine on them they'll light up like Blackpool lights!
There's no doubt that winter running can be pretty hardcore at times, but that's part of the adventure and I love it. The kit list above gives you a rundown of the basics you'll need to make sure you're warm enough when you head out for a run in the colder months. So get ready and get ready for your own winter running adventure.
* Dare2B products gifted for review