What to wear to run in the cold | The Essentials You Need

Running in the freezing cold… I am sure you got a few goosebumps after reading that and the clothes or gear you wear for winter running plays a major factor.

Seriously, the clothes you wear for running can turn a cold tundra into feeling like an absolute paradise.

There is a fine line for what to wear to run in the cold for cold winter runs, if you overdo the attire, you end up way too hot and sweaty. If you underdress for the cold runs, you are still well… freezing cold.

Running is already hard enough even on the nicest of days don’t make it a more miserable experience for yourself on those cold winter days.

This article will explain the recommended running gear on what to wear to run in the cold and in various winter conditions so you can pick the right attire to be most comfortable during your runs.

 A Little Bit Chilly

This is at the point where it’s no longer that perfect fall or early spring running weather, and when you step outside you might say to yourself “I probably should put on another layer.

These are the running conditions when you have to at least start to consider wearing more than just a t-shirt and shorts.

Sure, you might okay with only shorts and a t-shirt, but your arms and legs may be feeling a little chilly initially.

On chilly days this is what to wear to run in the cold

I recommend clothes that are going to keep at least your upper body warm at the beginning but is not going to cause you to get too hot

  • Thin long-sleeved shirt: clothes that will keep your arms warm, but shouldn’t cause extra sweating
  • Athletic shorts or possibly capris: Nothing too crazy just remember you are going to wear this for most of your run

What to Wear in The Wind and Rain

Run in the wind makes you feel colder than the actual temperature, due to removing the warm air surrounding body and skin.

So on windy days prepare to run in extra 5-10 degrees lower temperatures.

On rainy days, you should at least be considering running indoors, but if you insist on running outside at be least putting on a waterproof jacket.

However, just like running in the wind, rain is also going to cause you to get colder faster, so also prepare for 5-10 degrees colder temperatures.

Note: if you don’t have a waterproof jacket, you can always put an extra layer on to absorb some of the water. (Or if you don’t mind looking a little foolish just cut holes in trash bad and put that on)

Typical Winter Day

This kind of weather is the definition of your average winter (unless you live in tundra or the tropics) and wearing only t-shirts and shorts is no longer a discomfort chilly feeling it’s now almost a miserable cold feeling. 

The outdoor running conditions are now at a point where you need to start to put on layers (Well unless you are one of those people that says they “love” the cold)

The attire for what to wear to run in the cold on a typical winter day

Unlike a brisk 50 degrees fall day, on a cold winter day, you want a piece of clothing covering every part of your body except your face to reduce the cold and especially keep you from possibly getting sick

On your typical winter day, I recommend clothes that will keep you warm, but also low profile (such as tights) to reduce excessive sweating and restrictions to your movement      

  • Running pants or tights
  • Thick athletic long sleeve preferably made of moisture-wicking material
  • Thin Gloves preferably waterproof and windproof
  • Earmuffs or Hat (just something to at least cover your ears)
  • A base layer t-shirt (optional) or thin long sleeve

Frozen Wasteland (way below freezing)

Your average winter day already feels pretty damn cold to your skin, but these freezing temperatures bring a whole new meaning to freezing your butt off.

In these kinds of conditions a vast majority of people only go outside when they absolutely have to (most of the time just get to their car), but that’s not you –for some crazy reason you want to run in the freezing weather.

The temperature is so cold that if you stood outside too long your bare hands would turn as purple as a grape and maybe freeze solid like an ice cube (Okay that’s a bit extreme, but you get the point)

Running in these sub-freezing conditions is far from ideal and I definitely would start to consider running indoors on a treadmill or doing some cross training.

It is without almost question cold enough that the outdoors are not even bearable without a few layers on.

Don’t worry there is always going to someone who thinks it’s not that cold even if icicles are coming from their chin

 You no doubt want to be bundling up if you plan on running outside in sub-freezing conditions.

For freezing cold days this is what to wear to run in the cold

Furthermore, the clothes you put on should not just try to keep you warm while you are initially running or warming up, but for the entire run, so you want something pretty thick (well not that thing!)

Now that doesn’t mean you should put on a thousand layers of clothes just to be nice and toasty outside because remember you still have to run in all of those clothes.

So here are my recommendations on the gear to wear for the super cold runs

  • Sweatshirt, running jacket, or fairly thick long sleeve for an outer layer
  • A long sleeve that is sweat resistant for a base layer
  • Thick running pants, tights, joggers, or sweatpants
  • Thick mittens or gloves
  • Running beanie or hat(just something to at least cover your ears)
  • Thick wool socks

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