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Protection for those Cold Weather Runs

  • Let us start from the top.  You lose a reported 10% of heat from your head, so it is important to keep it covered.  Wear a hat of synthetic, wicking material.  Also remember that wind increases the effects of the cold, if it’s near-freezing use a face mask or scarf to cover your neck and face.  In addition, protect your skin from windburn and frostbite by using a sweat-resistant moisturizer such as BodyGlide, or Kiehl’s All-Sport Non-Freeze Face Protector.
  • Dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer, when starting your run you should be a little cold. The fabric closest to your skin should fit snug and be synthetic: DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, polypropylene, or silk.  These will wick the sweat away from your body, keeping you dry and warm. Don’t wear cotton for this layer because once it gets wet, you’ll stay wet.
  • Your outermost layer should be wind-resistant and waterproof. This layer should protect you against wind and moisture (rain, sleet, snow); at the same time allow both heat and moisture to escape to prevent both overheating and chilling. Wear a jacket with a zipper for this layer, so that you can regulate your temperature by zipping it up and down. Suggested outer layers: ClimaFit, Gore-Tex, Microsuplex, nylon, Supplex, and Windstopper.
  • For very cold weather (below 10 degrees F), you need a second or middle layer. This layer should have the perfect balance of trapping some air to keep your warm, and release enough vapor or heat to avoid overheating. Fabrics for this layer: Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece and Thermax.
  • Keeping your hands warm in cold weather running can be tricky. Run with a good pair of sweat-wicking running gloves. However, for really cold (or windy!) runs, layering a cheap pair of cotton finger gloves over the sweat wicking gloves does the trick.
  • Your legs generate a lot of heat so you don’t need as many layers on your lower body.  You can usually wear just a pair of tights or running pants made of synthetic material such as Thermion, Thinsulate, Thermax, Coolmax, polypropolene, and/or silk. If it’s below 10 degrees F (temperature or wind chill), you may want to consider two layers on your lower body: a wicking layer of tights, and a wind-proof layer such as track pants.
  • Your feet also stay warm, as long as you keep them moving and dry.  Look for a running shoe with little mesh or if you can’t avoid running in the snow, you may want to buy trail running shoes, which are waterproof and give you more traction in the snow. Never wear cotton socks (in cold or warm weather) when running because they won’t wick away the moisture, leaving your feet wet and prone to blisters. Instead, be sure to wear a good pair of wicking socks made of fabrics such as acrylic, CoolMax, or wool (in the winter).

These suggestions should help keep you warm and dry through your runs helping you survive the cold winter months…

Please share your cold weather survival tips. See you at the finish line.

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