How to layer up for winter running

The weather outside is frightful, but a good base layer is so delightful

Pretending to be a superhero and under-dressing while outdoors during winter not only means you’ll be cold and miserable, it’s downright dangerous. Don’t be a daredevil. Heed this advice and make the most of the winter chill.
Layering your clothing apparel while out and about in cold temperatures will ensure stable core body temperature and comfortability while you train. In its simplest sense, it involves three elements; an inner sweat-wicking layer (base), an insulating layer (middle), and a weatherproof layer (outer). As your body heats up from the rigours of physical exertion, you can gradually strip layers accordingly.
“Layering begins with the base layer, which can be synthetics such as polypropylene or polyester, silk, wool or other fabrics,” explained a spokesperson from clothing company L.L.Bean.
For the base layer, choose a wicking fabric to absorb sweat. This will assist in keeping your skin dry to avoid ailments such as hypothermia. The idea of wicking fabrics is to pull moisture away from the skin to the surface of the fabric where it can evaporate. Consider wool, which is odour resistant and provides superior warmth, and steer well clear of cotton as a base layer.
For the mid layer, consider a slightly denser version of the above or opt for a fabric such as a light fleece. Be sure to cover the legs with tights. These will work to trap air and insulate the body.
On top, if the weather is decidedly brutal and/or you are out for an extended period of time, you may need a weather-proof protective shell to repel the natural elements. These should be lightweight, windproof, water-resistant, and breathable at the same time. Gore-Tex is a very popular and discerning choice.
Here are a few other pieces of advice to remember.
  • Layer but do not overdress – You should feel slightly cool before you set out. Your temporary chill will quickly pass as your body temperature increases once you start moving, so avoid the temptation to bundle excessively.
  • Protect your extremities – Be sure to wear good quality socks that are warm and moisture-wicking, appropriate footwear (possibly with complementary shoe covers), warm and flexible gloves, and a headband or hat to prevent excessive heat loss through the head and to protect your ears. You may even need a light, stretchy material to cover the face and UV sunglasses to protect from glare and watery eyes.
  • Clothing thickness does not equate to warmth - a key to winter workouts is not to bulk up too much. This may well cause over-heating. You want to retain flexibility too, so opt for high-quality but lightweight apparel.
 Do not neglect to address other issues especially pertinent to winter training such as adequate warm-up, stretching, and hydration.
Don’t tempt fate in winter. If you’re dressed appropriately, the cold months can provide some of the most exhilarating and unforgettable training sessions of all.


Need Traction?

Our review of the Kahtoola NANOSpikes

Watch it