The Best Gear for Winter Running

Reno is the only place I've lived where I can go running in shorts and a T-shirt in nearly 60* weather on a Sunday, and Tuesday have to figure out what to wear in 23* with ice and snow.  We tend not to ease into winter - it just wakes up one day and bludgeons us.  Our temperatures do fluctuate during the day so if morning running is too chilly, you can go at 3 in the afternoon and add 20*.  As the expression goes - if you don't like Reno weather, wait 5 minutes. Keep reading for my list of the best gear for running during the winter.

Now that the temps have dropped, chances are fairly good they'll stay that way.  As I train twice a week at 5:20 am (and otherwise have difficulty getting out the door), my options on those days are to deal with it or go back to sleep. I go because running in any weather is better than not running at all (I reminded myself of that over and over and over again this morning). 19* temps in the pitch dark this morning made me consider if I should run (and my sanity if I did).  But I got up and ran despite the cold and my evident lack of any shred of sanity.  I used my fleece-lined pants which were perfect.  My long sleeve, which was perfect.  My lightweight hat with a baseball cap on top (to hold the clip light obviously as it was pitch dark) which was a little lightweight, but OK.  My shell jacket which was perfect.  And my single layer gloves which were NOT PERFECT!  

Anything below 25* for me requires the use of disposable hand warmers tucked into the mitten pocket that goes over my glove or my hands remain painfully cold the entire 4.5 miles despite pulling my fingers into the center of said glove.  I know this, but I haven't purchased disposable hand warmers yet because I was waiting until A) It got colder and B) I got paid.  Evidently A did not wait for B so there I was.  Freezing. I tend to run colder than most so I'm generally wearing one layer more or heavier than all my running friends.  This is not due to body fat as my running friends are mostly women who have less body fat (or at least the same amount) as I do.  I'm just always freaking cold.  And I hate it.  SO, here's a list of items you might want to grab if you're as crazy as I am and you run in temperatures as cold as -3* (the coldest I've run in Reno).

  • Hat. I have some that are running specific, but since I run cold this is an area I just want to keep warm.  Worst case scenario I sweat, but hats can be pulled partway off or shoved in a pocket so I'm really not picky.  I have two different weight headbands and a bunch of hats
  • Neck Gaiter.  I like these lighter weight since usually I'll pull them off when I warm up.  I get them in the ski department.  I pull them over my face or just around my neck for a little warmth.  This seems less constricting than zipping a jacket up tight.
  • Gloves.  I like different weights.  I have my lightweight fleece for temps 25-45* and then gloves with a mitten pocket (which are by far my most used pair) so I can put the hand warmer in, or pull them back if it's too warm.  I also have a really warm pair for temps that hit below 15*.  I'm miserable if my hands are cold.
  • Jacket.  I have a lightweight for wind and rain, a midweight shell and a lightweight down option for colder weather.  Midweight with a warm shirt works down to 15*.  Below that, I use the down and the layers underneath are dependent on how cold it is.
  • Socks.  I use wool, longer running socks when it's below 15*.  Oddly, my feet are almost always cold, but I don't tend to need warmer socks until it gets pretty nippy out.  It isn't logical to me, but either they stay a standard temp or I just can't feel them......
  • YakTrax.  If it's icy out these slip over my shoes.  They make running slow and awkward but that's kind of neat because it feels like running on a trail.
  • REI cross country ski shell pants.  Again, for temps below 10* when fleece pants aren't quite enough, these are a lifesaver.  Lightweight and breathable for skiing, they are perfect for running as well.

Pretty much runners will tell you that in very hot or very cold temps, you'll be a little slower but you'll still be out there running.  Just be safe and stay warm.



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