How to Perfectly Layer for Cold Weather Running

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By Anna Petr

Runners Roost Fort Collins How to Perfectly Layer for Cold Weather RunningIt’s about that time of year when runners must trade in their short shorts and singlets for tights and gloves. As the sun sets earlier and rises later, and the vibrant leaves transform the landscape, a crisp chill embraces the air, reminding us that the season of layered running attire has returned.

I’m certain that I’m not the only one who has a fashion crisis on the first chilly long run of the season. As a collegiate runner at Colorado State University, I train year round and experience all the seasons and the weather that comes with them.

What do I wear? How can I avoid freezing in the first mile and overheating halfway through?

If these are questions you ask yourself, look no further for the answers. I have made a guide for how to best layer in different temperatures! I typically opt for less layers, but one way to be more conservative for cold weather is to start off with a light layer and take it off part of the way through the run if you get too toasty!

*Disclaimer- this guide applies best to people who live in dry climates similar to Colorado, if you live somewhere more humid you will want to dress a little warmer!

40-50°
For days that are a little chillier but are still in the 40’s I always go for shorts. I feel like my legs are my last body part to get cold. If it’s a sunny day and is 45+, I will likely go with a sports bra or a short sleeve. If it’s cloudy or below 45 I’ll grab a long sleeve and tuck my hands into the sleeves!

35-40°
Depending on the run you’re doing, I would still opt for shorts on a day that’s in the high 30’s, especially if it’s a longer or harder run. To me, this is long sleeve and gloves weather.

Runners Roost Fort Collins How to Perfectly Layer for Cold Weather Running30-35°
Okay, this is the point where I’d trade being a little warmer by the end of the run than having numb legs for the first half of my run. I’d run in lightweight tights and a long sleeve with gloves in this weather!

20-30°
Brrr these temps can make it a little tougher to get out of the door! A 29° day with the sun out in Colorado can be beautiful and pleasant, but a 20° cloudy or windy day can chill you right to the bone. For this kind of day I’d wear tights, a thermal long sleeve, gloves, and a headband. If it’s extra chilly I’d add a running vest!

10-20°
If the temperature starts with a 1, it’s not a drill anymore!! Cold. For me this would be thermal tights, a half-zip or thermal long sleeve, vest, a headband, and gloves.

0-10°
This is probably the coldest weather I’d recommend running in for more than half an hour! After that, frostbite becomes likely and personally my hands and feet go numb, which is no fun. For this, I would wear thermal tights or joggers, a thermal long sleeve, a vest, a windbreaker, gloves, and a headband. For runs that are snowy or are in the single digits, I prefer mittens to keep my fingers warmer.

Other notes:
Having the right socks makes a huge difference for having warm feet during winter runs. Stay away from cotton and choose options that are made with materials like merino wool instead. This material is moisture wicking and options like Smartwool are made specifically for running- so there should be no blisters or movement!

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