Winter is here and with it, the joy of cool weather running. Since I’m still doing the stay-at-home mom gig, winter running has been much warmer so far. Running in mid-morning gives me a good ten degrees over running at the crack of dawn, as I’ve done in past years.
While a cold gray day or rain makes it a lot harder to run, I think correct attire makes all the difference. I can’t claim to know much about running at temperatures under 30 F, but for cold, gray rainy days, I feel like I’ve got things dialed in.
1.) Start by buying an indoor-outdoor thermometer. Everyone is different in terms of attire preferences, but the best way to dial in your own choices are to at least know how warm or cold it is. Online weather services are often off by up to five degrees, which is huge. I received mine as a gift, but it looks a like like this one. At this point, we have two indoor-outdoor thermometers, and I always look at it before dressing to go running.
50 F +
If it’s not raining or extremely windy, temperatures 50 and higher, even if it’s overcast, call for shorts and short sleeves. Since motherhood, I mostly wear tight shorts, but any kind of shorts will do.
These shorts from Lululemon are have a pocket big enough for my phone at the back of the waist (where I prefer to carry it) and side pockets on the shorts for a key. They’re quite stretchy.
For loose shorts, I’m a fan of Zoot.
I really like these short-sleeve Nike running tops.
If it’s rainy or windy, I add gloves and/or a very lightweight headband that I can take off once I warm up.
If the temperature is in the high 40s, I consider switching to capri tights and will generally bring along a lightweight headband. I prefer my Capri tights short – just below the knee, ideally. Oiselle sells a number of “knickers” that meet this spec.
If it’s windy or rainy, I’ll probably switch to a long-sleeve half-zip top. NOT quarter-zip, not one-third zip – a full half-zip, so I can unzip it fully if I get warm, which I usually do. One of my pet peeves if retailers selling “half zip” tops that are really quarter zip. A half zip top should unzip at least to the midpoint between the collar bone and belly button. I love my Sugoi half zip tops, but unfortunately, they are no longer sold. This Lululemon top meets all my specs – tru half zip, thumb sleeves, pockets (to store gloves and headband), not too short, too tight, or too long.
Low to mid 40s
Often, in the low 40s, capri tights plus a LS half zip top, gloves, and a headband are sufficient to keep me warm. However, if it’s raining or threatening rain, I sometimes like to wear a lightweight water-resistant vest and a hat with a brim, or a visor. (I have a different lululemon vest that’s no longer sold – mine may be a bit more lightweight than this one. The more lightweight, the better.) Keeping the rain off my face makes a huge difference.
Around 40 degrees
At around 41 or 42, I switch to full-length tights. I am a fan of the Epic Lux line by Nike. Like Lululemon and Amazon, Nike has free shipping and, crucially, free returns. I don’t remember paying this much for my Nike tights – maybe they’ve raised their prices? It looks like they’ve added some pockets, so they’re not quite the same as the ones I own.
If it’s raining with the temperature around 40, I like to wear a super-lightweight Gore-tex jacket without a hood. Vents a must-have feature. The Patagonia jacket I own is still available on eBay, and if you live in a cool rainy climate, it’s a 1000% worth it. Note that it comes in men’s and women’s sizes, so make sure you know which you’re buying.
Near 40 degrees, I like to add a more robust headband, like this one. It’s a couple layers and makes a big difference.
Low to mid 30s
When the weather drops into the 30s, I like to switch to Sugoi MidZero tights. Be careful to buy *mid*zero tights, not SubZero tights, which are for much colder temperatures. Near 30 degrees, I might add a light layer over the tights if it feels particularly chilly due to wind or something like that.
In the 30s, I switch from a headband to a hat.
We rarely have temperatures below around 30. If it gets that cold, I just stay home.