Winter running: what the heck do I wear?!

I love winter running. I know my blizzard experience in my last post might indicate otherwise, but having grown up in upstate NY, I loved the winter season ever since I was little. And as I grew up and took on running, I instantly took a liking to winter running. I love the energy the cold gives you, the numbing feeling when you have finally become desensitized to the freezing temps, the challenge of pushing through tough winds and not falling on ice, and of course the super accomplished feeling you get after it’s all done 🙂

The toughest hurdle for me to start running outside in the winter was figuring out what to wear! After some trial and error, I now have some great winter staples, and this post is dedicated to sharing what to works for me and will hopefully for you!



The great thing about winter running clothes is, you only need a few quality, staple items to make it through. Maybe it’s because you’re not sweating as much, but I find myself rotating between the same two (yes…I said two) outfits really. Also, I am a maxxinista – I get approximately 90% of my running clothes at T.J. Maxx and the other 10% at Modells…I am not one to buy expensive clothing, and I find that department stores give the perfect balance of quality and budget. All in all, I’m 100% sure you can get away with spending less than $100 on all your winter items, combined!

What to wear

Now the necessities – here is what I can’t live without during my winter runs:

  • Base layer – the base layer should be something dry-fit since it will be in direct contact with your skin. I love wearing all those dry-fit tee’s from all those past races (preferably long sleeve)! On super cold days, I’ll double up on this layer, and wear a tighter long sleeve layer under the dry-fit layer.
  • Thermo/warmth layer – This is the important one. A sweat shirt/hoodie or thick running long sleeve should do. Personally, fleece is my best friend, and I prefer a warm quarter-zip fleece to keep me warm, especially ones that go above the neck so you don’t need a scarf. I love this one, and wear it on almost every winter run!
  • Windbreaker – Especially on snowy/rainy days, a windbreaker is a must! The one I have isn’t exactly a windbreaker, it’s more of a water-resistant zip-up hoodie that helps cut the wind so that the fleece layer can really do it’s magic, but investing in a good windbreaker really makes a difference on those sub-20 degree days.
  • Leggings – I personally like wearing leggings on the thin side. I’m one of those people who just needs my upper body warm in order to feel totally warm. I also don’t like having my legs feel constricted with tons of fabric. For cold days, I double up and layer Uniqlo’s leggings underneath.
  • Gloves – A must. Preferably ones with touch ability for smart phones. Thickness is based on personal preference – I like them on the thinner side. Christine got me these recently!  IMG_2446.JPG
  • Ear warmers – I love love love ear warmers, and own approximate 1298430 pairs. Some people take the hat route, but I always think less is more with running, and as long as my ears are warm, I’m a happy gal. This one and this one are my favorites.
  • Optional items:
    • vest – I see it as more of a fashion statement, but not a necessity
    • face covers – I find them pretty restricting and hard to breath, but I see runners wearing them from time to time
    • thick socks – I’ve never had problems with my usual socks

How much to wear

This section is completely my personal opinion and what works for ME. I tend to dress on the cold side since I HATE being too warm on a run, but find that being too cold is just motivation to run faster back home ;). You should experiment to see what works for you, but I hope this can be a starting point:

  • 60+ degrees: tank top + shorts
  • 50-60 degrees: short sleeve tee + shorts/capris
  • 40-50 degrees: base layer + long leggings
  • 35-40 degrees: base layer + (vest) + long leggings + ear warmers
  • 30-35 degrees: base layer + warm thermo layer + long leggings + ear warmers
  • 20-30 degrees: base layer + warm thermo layer + wind breaker + long leggings + ear warmers + gloves
  • 10-20 degrees: 2 base layers + warm thermo layer + wind breaker + 2 pairs of long leggings + ear warmers + gloves
  • sub 10: UMMMM NO…I’m on the treadmill

I hope this is helpful! Happy running my friends!!!!

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