Learn how to best prepare and what to wear when running in cold weather.

By: Ryan Reynolds

Today I’m giving you five tips on how to stay warm while running when it is freezing outside.

Canada in the winter is very cold so how do you dress for that? How do you dress for the cold? That could be Texas cold, or that could be, hey, I’m going on vacation to Canada cold, and I still need to run.

  1. Start Cold

You want to dress with the expectation that you’re going to be a little bit cold when you first step out the door. As you start running, your core temperature will rise a lot, and if you dress with the intention of being warm from the very start, you will be melting by the very end. You don’t want to be shaking cold but expect to be a little bit chilly when you first start.

2. Protect Hands and Ears

I know this from experience is to protect your hands and protect your ears when running in the cold. The thing that will make me miserable faster than anything else is when my hands get overly cold, especially when my ears get overly cold. Wear something like a beanie or, like we call here in Canada, a “toque.” A great tool that I’ve found useful for all sorts of stuff is a gator, or you might know it as a buff. You can wear it like a hood so you can cover up your head and neck, or when you start to get hot as you run, you can roll it up into a headband and cover up your ears and keep some of that wet hair out of your face. 

Once your hands get cold, it is so difficult to get them warm again. My favorite thing to wear is these convertible mittens that I got from Target; they were like $15. You can start with the mittens over your hands, and then as you begin to warm up, you probably won’t need all that heat anymore, and you can flip them back. They Velcro to the back of your hand, and then you’re basically wearing bicycle gloves. It’ll keep your palms warm. It’ll keep the back of your hands warm, but you won’t overheat. If it gets windy and starts to get cold again, flip them back over the top, and you’re warm again. Trust me on this, do not be brave and go out with gloves you’ll hate yourself later.

3. Merino Wool

My third tip for you is just simply merino wool. It’s lightweight, but it’s also warm. It’s breathable, but it’s also warm. It’s moisture-wicking, but it’s also very warm. Another great thing about merino wool is that it’s like anti-stink. You can go out in this and sweat every bit of water out of your body, and this stuff is probably not going to stink afterward. Now granted, there are different levels of stinky people but what’s beautiful is once you put it in the wash, even if you did somehow manage to get it super stinky, the stink leaves. It unlike those like scratchy sweaters that your Aunt Kathy used to get you for Christmas. This stuff is super soft, and it’s thin, so it’s effortless to layer underneath things, and you can layer on top of it, and it’s not bulky at all.

4. Dress in Layers

My next tip for you is to dress in layers. You can start with the same base layer every time, and then as it gets colder out, add another layer on top. 

Example: 40 to 50 degrees outside – What I would typically wear for this kind of level of cold is a long-sleeve merino wool base layer underneath, just a regular dry-fit shirt that you’d kind of get from a race, and then believe it or not I would just wear shorts. My legs don’t get cold, but you might find that yours do. If that’s the case, you can even just put a pair of merino wool tights on underneath your shorts. Then, of course, I’m going to have something to cover my ears. Then I will have my convertible gloves on and then just regular old running socks and shoes. It’s nothing special down there. When you’re running, friction and that blood pumping to your feet will keep your feet pretty warm, especially at this temperature.

Example: 32 degrees – Now, when the temperature gets a little bit lower down towards freezing, I’m going to keep that same base, but I’m going to be wearing some merino wool tights underneath my shorts. Then I’m probably going to add another layer on top of what I’ve already got on. So on top of my merino wool on top of my dry fit I’m going to add something like a light jacket or maybe a hoodie on top of that. I’m then going to add a toque, and I’m also going to have the gator for my neck. Same thing on the bottom of my feet I’m just going to wear my regular shoes and socks.

Example: Below 32 degrees – We’re going to take the exact same setup that we used for freezing temperatures. We’re going to have our merino wool tights underneath our shorts. We’re going to have our merino wool shirt underneath our dry-fit shirt, underneath our hoodie, or whatever light jacket we have on. At this point, we will bump up our gloves to something a little bit more substantial. I’m a huge fan of mittens, and I know you’re thinking mittens, mittens are for Children. No, they’re not! It keeps all of your fingers together so that they can get warmth from each other. What makes these mittens super cool see how there’s a little tab right there that says pull. Pull that tab open and look, you have fingers so you can actually do things like unzip your coat, which i wouldn’t normally be able to do with mittens on. If you can’t find those, because this is the first time I’ve ever seen them, you can also find some heavier-duty convertible gloves like the ones that I’ve got from Target that are meant for super cold temperatures or, at the very least, wear some of those like magic mittens that you can get at the dollar store underneath your mittens so if you need to have a little bit more dexterity you can pull those off if you need to tie your shoes maybe even get some of those that have the smartphone technology stuff so you can touch your phone, even though those never work for me but maybe you’ll get lucky. Now on top of my shorts, I’m going to wear an extra layer. Ideally, if you can find something that is windproof and waterproof, that would be perfection. If you’re short like me, it’s challenging to find those kinds of things to fit, so pop just a pair of regular sweatpants over the top of that. It gives me an extra layer of protection there. I’m going to wear another jacket on top of my hoodie at this point. This is going to be a place where you’re going to want to play with it a little bit. You might find that this is too much heat for you, but a lot of it depends on the level of humidity and the wind. If it’s humid out or if it’s windy, you’re going to want that extra layer. I recommend something like a really low-profile puffer jacket. Look for Primaloft, so that is going to be super warm but not really puffy. You’re not going to be walking around like a marshmallow. You’re going to have room to swing your arms. Now at this point, you’re probably going to want to add a little something extra on your feet. Those socks that I know are not going to give me blisters that I’m used to running in, I’m going to keep those right up against my feet, but what I am going to do is I’m going to add another extra warmer sock on top of that. This is another place where merino wool is great because it is so warm yet so low profile, so this isn’t going to bulk your shoe up. You might find that you may want to get another pair of shoes that’s just maybe even a half size bigger. Just to allow space now, if you’re not going to be doing this all the time and you can just deal with having bulky socks for like one or two days, don’t worry about it. I knew I would be in Calgary for several months, so I went ahead, and I bought my shoes an extra half size bigger specifically to allow for those extra socks when you’re running. 

5. Keep Going

I’m sure you’ve noticed this, you sweat even when it’s seven degrees outside. You’re still going to sweat, and when it’s seven degrees outside, even though wool stays warm when it’s wet, you are still going to get cold. That’s all there is to it. If you need to stop to tie your shoes if you need to stop to get a drink of water, try to keep it as quick as you possibly can. Don’t stop at the water stop with your run group and have a 10-minute conversation with your friend Bobby. Just keep running. Make Bobby come with you because if you stop, all of that circulation is keeping you warm will go away, and you’re going to get cold, and you’re going to be very uncomfortable. You might be able to gain that warmth back but it’s going to be a hard few minutes, and you’re going to be angry with yourself. Keep moving; otherwise, you’re just going to be really cold. 

Now you know how to stay warm while running in frigid temperatures. If you know that you’re going to be running in temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit, that’s something that I have yet to experience; send me a message Ry@runproject.org or leave a comment down below. I’m sure out of the millions of winter sports enthusiasts out there, and there is someone that I can find that can give me some accurate information specific to you. If you have any questions that do not pertain to today’s video, please feel free to go ahead and leave a comment down below I would love to make a video specifically for you. It would be my pleasure. 

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