What do I wear for cold weather running?

woman runs in snow in winter running clothes

Bottom line…don’t over think it. There will be a bit of trial and error before you find your go-to clothing combos. Here are a few overarching concepts to get you started.

  1. Start a bit cold…not absolutely freezing. If you are wondering if you should really start in the puffy or pullover, wear it. In about 10 minutes of running, you’ll pretty much know what clothes will work for the rest of the run. You won’t die if you have to wrap the jacket around your waist for the rest of that day’s run.
  2. Keep a log. Record the temperature, other weather conditions, what you ended up wearing for most of the run, and other notes like “this jacket would have been perfect if the sleeves zipped off” or “my fingers were really cold in gloves; I should try mittens”. You won’t have to do this long before you figure out your basics.
  3. Layer-up but keep’em thin. You will be shocked at how much heat and sweat your body still puts off even when temps plummet. If you keep the layers thin, you’ll be able to make mini-adjustments. If you wear a wool sweater or the puffy you would normally wear standing still in those temps, you’ll have a huge temperature drop if you take them off.
  4. You don’t need to start with the expensive stuff. Target and Walmart both have very inexpensive options that you can wear while you figure things out. If you decide running in the cold is going to be a thing for you, then invest. More on that in future post…

Sample Cold-weather Running Clothes Combinations for Women

These are what I generally wear as a 5’2″, 120lb, 47 year old female, living at 5000ft in Albuquerque. Your experiences may differ.

50+ degrees

  • running shorts
  • sports bra
  • wicking synthetic shortsleeve shirt
  • thin SmartWool socks
  • Saucony Peregrine 8 trail running shoes

40-50 degrees

  • running shorts or light running capris
  • sports bra¬†
  • wicking long sleeve shirt with thumb holes and a hood
  • wicking synthetic shortsleeve shirt
  • thin SmartWool socks
  • Saucony Peregrine 8 trail running shoes

32-40 Degrees

  • long running tights
  • sports bra
  • wicking long sleeve shirt with thumb holes and a hood (I’m a huge fan of the Voormi River Run Hoodie but make sure you’re going to be running all winter-it’s awesome but pricey)
  • wicking synthetic shortsleeve shirt (i don’t have a preference)
  • thin SmartWool socks
  • Saucony Peregrine 8 trail running shoes
  • possibly a running vest – I wear the Patagonia Nano-Air vest
  • something to cover your ears-I wear a merino Buff

25-32 degrees

  • winter weight long running tights
  • possibly a running skirt-this goes over your tights
  • sports bra
  • thermal running shirt with a 1/4 zip
  • a running vest – I wear the Patagonia Nano-Air vest
  • a breathable running jacket – I wear a Patagonia Houdini with a hood
  • high ankle, thicker SmartWool running socks
  • Saucony Peregrine 8 trail running shoes
  • something to cover your ears-I wear a merino Buff

Super cold conditions to come…

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