Winter running doesn't have to be miserable. In fact, it can be enjoyable if you are wearing the proper running apparel. An important thing to remember is that you'll feel better during your run if you are wearing comfortable clothes. Whether you are a fairly new runner running a mile or a seasoned runner training for longer distances, the clothes you're wearing can make a difference. And, it's especially important to have proper clothes for winter running.
Runners should wear clothing that is not only comfortable, but "runner friendly". What I mean by that is that you should wear apparel made with moisture-wicking fabrics. This fabric will "wick" away the moisture from your body as your sweat and keep you dry. This is important in both cold weather and warmer weather. If you wear shirts that don't do this - as you sweat, the sweat stays against your body, you stay wet, cold and pretty miserable.
Cotton is the one fabric that you want to stay away from. Cotton will absorb your body heat, your moisture as your sweat and will cling to your body. This makes your run pretty miserable not matter what time of year it is. Most runners that have been running for years can attest to this. We've all been out there in our cotton t-shirts before better material became available.
Layering your clothing is the best way to stay comfortable when you are running in colder weather. Multiple layers will keep you drier than one heavy piece of apparel. The different layers will keep you warm while wicking moisture away from your body. How many layers you wear depends on a couple of factors - how cold the climate is your running in, is it raining and how warm you like to be when you run.
Another good thing to remember is that you should dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer than it actually is outside. The extra 10 degrees accounts for your body heat.
Your base layer is the most important. This layer needs to move moisture away from you so that you won't get chilled. This is the layer where you definitely want a technical shirt - such as CoolMax. For some runners, this layer could be a singlet or for others a long sleeve shirt.
A shirt with a zipper that is a great next layer - especially if you are using 2 layers. If it gets a little warmer, you can partially unzip and allow some ventilation. If it turns cooler on you or the wind starts to pick up - you can zip it all the way up.
When the weather is really cold or if its raining/snowing, you need some sort of jacket. You can find jackets now that are wind-resistant and water resistant. When you are looking at jackets, make sure to look to see if they are venting in the back (and sometimes under the arms). This will allow the ventilation that you need so that your layers don't get "heavy" as you sweat.
You also want to remember your hands and feet. Be sure to wear gloves and a hat or band over your ears on those super cold days. Also, If it's raining, I like to wear a cap that is rain-resistant. This keeps the rain from getting in my eyes.
Running in the winter can be a lot of fun if you make sure you are properly prepared for it. Just remember, you want to stay comfortable, warm and dry!
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