Winter running gear: what to wear when running in winter

Always feel cold when running in the winter? We explain what winter running gear you should wear when training in cold/freezing weather

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As athletes participating in outdoor sports, we have to pay particular attention to coping with the cold at this time of year. Alongside our basic hardiness, there are numerous strategies we should employ. Here are just a few pointers on what winter running gear to wear so you stay warm and toasty, no matter what the elements are doing… 


1. Wear tights/leggings not shorts to keep muscles warm at all times.

2 Layer up and choose garments that allow you to vent (open zips, roll up sleeves) once you’re warm.

3. Wear gloves, particularly if you suffer from chilblains

4. Wear appropriately grippy footwear for the conditions, especially off-road.

5. If you do suffer with the cold it might be worth buying a pair of run shoes half a size bigger, so you can wear two pairs of socks or wear a thicker pair of socks. Have two pairs of shoes on the go so that one set can be drying out (stuffed with newspaper) slowly while you’re using the other pair.

6. Get a head torch and red LED lights for running in the dark.

7. Make sure your base layer is made of a suitable wicking fabric.  

How to layer up for winter running

Layering is an effective method of optimising your clothing attire for both the activity and conditions. Usually there are three layers involved in dressing for the cold, especially on the bike. 

What is the base layer?

This sits next to the skin and is designed to wick moisture (perspiration) away. It also needs to be lightweight and relatively tight-fitting to avoid sweat pooling on the skin beneath it. Avoid cotton as it tends to hold moisture next to the skin long after you finish sweating, increasing heat-loss exponentially.

The insulation layer

Typically a fleece-type fabric or down in more extreme weather. Like the base layer, for sporting purposes it needs to be lightweight and tight fitting. The insulation layer traps warm air between itself and your base layer.

The outer layer

This windproof/waterproof layer keeps the warm air trapped between your base layer and insulation layer. Having vent zips in this layer is an effective way of regulating temperature. For cycling, pick an outer layer that’s big enough to go over the top but not so baggy as to act like a parachute.