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winter running

If I had £1 for every time I was asked that question, I wouldn’t just be rich – I’d be filthy rich, making it rain all day, every day. How to dress for running in the winter is one of those conundrums that’s tough to answer, as there’s a cross-section of people in this world who’ll happily run in cold season, legs out, arms out, with little regard for frost or wind chill. But presumably, that’s not you. If I’m right, here are some basic tips you can follow to ensure you can still enjoy running outdoors, even when it’s winter.

Lock down your layers

As much as I’m still tempted to run in a heavy sweater or hoodie, I’ve come to learn that layering actually works. It helps you stay warm  as your body heats up during your run, but you’ve got the option to shed any excess clothing to maintain your body temperature. If it’s relatively cold, the formula to layering is:

  • A base layer – like a vest made from a breathable synthetic fabric,  so sweat doesn’t stick to your skin
  • A mid layer – like a long-sleeved shirt to keep you warm and take away moisture from the base layer
  • An outer layer – usually a lightweight jacket that can protect you from the elements, like wind or rain.

If it’s not freezing, you can sack off the base layer and switch up the mid-layer for a short-sleeved shirt instead. Of course, you’ve got to figure out what works for you. For instance, sometimes I wear a gilet over my mid layer if I know it’s not gonna be crazy cold – see below:


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Get ya gloves out

“I wish I wasn’t wearing gloves on this cold and frosty day,” said no one, ever. Running gloves can be the difference between having happy hands or angry, frost-nipped fingers. It’s rare I’ll take my gloves off even when I get warm during my run, so I always think it’s better to have something (to hand) than nothing at all.

Protect ya neck (and ya head)

Do you know what a buff is? Yea, neither did I until I recently learned they’re a versatile, breathable piece of fabric that’s perfect for winter running. Use it as a headband, a neck protector, a wristband, a headscarf or whatever makes you feel like cold can’t mess with you today! Otherwise, you might want to reach for a bobble hat, knitted headband or running cap to keep you nice and toasty.

Wear warm leggings

…Although truth be told, I’ve never heard of ‘cold’ leggings given the way they’re designed nowadays (unless we factor in capri leggings which you’d never reach for in winter unless it’s a rare warm day).

Don’t wear cotton

Cotton is so nice and soft and snug – but not the thing to wear on a winter run. Why? Because cotton soaks up your sweat and takes forever to dry – which – you’ve guessed it – will leave you feeling ridiculously cold. Wear ‘wicking’ fabrics, like high-tech polyester (and check the labels if you’re not sure).

By: Matilda Egere-Cooper (who’s currently training for London Marathon in the dead of winter, and not loving it very much.)

Liked this? Check out our free running gear checklist for beginners.

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