By Karen Kwan
Snow, ice, wind, subzero temps – there’s a lot to contend with when it comes to winter running, so if you’re braving the outdoors this season rather than confining yourself to the treadmill or indoor track, be sure you’re dressed properly. Here are a few pointers to get your geared up for the elements.
Layer, layer, layer. Resist the temptation to pile on your warmest, thickest clothing. While it may be chilly out, you will warm up during your run so you’re better off layering several thinner pieces made of technical fabrics. A long sleeve base layer is a must, as is a winter running jacket that’ll help break the wind – and depending on the temperature and conditions, adjust your layers accordingly. For bottoms, invest in a pair of winter running tights to keep your legs warm (cold air will travel up the bottoms of looser, flared pants).
Make sure you will be seen. Your winter running pieces should feature reflective elements so that you are visible to cars and other vehicles. Your running shoes, tights and jacket should all have reflective strips and the like. And given that the chances are you may be running in the dark are high in the winter season, wearing a light on your jacket or a safety vest is smart – you want to be as flashy as possible so you can run safely.
Keep those extremities warm. Much of our body heat escapes from our head and neck, making a hat and neckwarmer are essential. Consider a balaclava on the particularly frigid days to protect your face and to stay even toastier. And, of course, protect your hands – get a few pairs of inexpensive, warm gloves or mittens if you tend to lose them (this way, in the spring when you find you don’t need your gloves during a run, or during a race after you’ve warmed up, you won’t feel too guilty about ditching the cheapie gloves along the way).
Get sure footing. A pair of running shoes designed for winter running will be water resistant and feature better traction so that you’re not slipping and sliding as much when running outdoors. If you’re into DIY approach, some runners have found that drilling a few screws into the bottom of the running shoe soles provides better grip during the winter. There are also products, such as Yaktrax, that allow you to temporarily add more traction to your favourite pair of sneakers.