First off let me preface by saying that running in cold and treacherous conditions may be dangerous. Please be careful if you are not used to running in wintery weather.
That being said, running in snowy wintery conditions can be awesome! Getting outside in blustery conditions does take a little practice but with the right gear and mindset it may be your new favorite running season.
Choosing what to wear will take time to figure out based on your preferences. This is probably the most crucial aspect of winter running. The challenge lies in temperature and moisture control. When you start running you will always be cold if you are dressed properly then hopefully you will warm up to a comfortable temperature. Layers and a light wind breaker that you can peel off once you begin warming up is always an options. Plus it is great to have a windbreaker in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. You will also want to wear a material that wicks moisture. Under your laysers of warm clothes you will build up sweat as you run. If you are not wear moisture wicking clothes you will eventually become quite chilly as you have wet clothes against your body.
Extremities are important. Your core generally isn’t too hard to regulate but hands, feet, ears can quickly become unbearably cold while the rest of you is hot if you do not have proper clothing. Reno Running Company carries a variety of gloves and mittens made specifically for runners. They are lightweight and convertible. I highly recommend a buff for your head. If you have not tried a buff for around your neck, face, head wrists, etc. do yourself a favor and watch our video about buffs.
When it comes to your feet you will want to run with taller run specific socks to wick the moisture and prevent blisters. You will want to go with a thick winter version. Also, you may want to consider investing in gore-tex or waterproof shoe. Lastly, when the snow is a bit deeper ankle gaiters which are generally meant for rocks and debris work great to keep snow from packing down your ankles
Some runners avoid winter running because it can be quite slippery and they are afraid of falling. That is understandable. However, there are ways to prevent this. Firstly I would recommend running somewhere flat if you are uncomfortable running in slippery conditions. Any little bit of off-camber terrain can cause slippage and cause you splat. Another tip is to stay off road. Sometimes the dirt and sand from trails provides a bit more grip than a slick and icy sidewalk. Lastly, you may want to consider get a pair of traction devices for your shoes. They work great and can be used on almost any type of running shoe. What am I talking about?…. just watch another video
Also, since it is darker in the winter months you should also be prepared with lighting (headlamp and blinking safety lights) should you find yourself out in the dark.
So if it still sounds quite miserable to you I challenge you to give it a shot. Find some buddies and go play in the snow. Winter months are a great time to not focus on nailing specific workouts but to get out the door and continue that active lifestyle by simply moving, feeling the crisp fresh air and reaping the reward for the accomplishment of crushing a wintery blizzard run. You’ll feel great!
Written by Ben Tedore,
Sierra Endurance Sports Athlete
Figuring out how to dress before stepping out the door for a run is always challenging. Many factors come into play and almost all of them revolve around your comfort while running. I suppose style and looks are important as well but being comfortable is hopefully your first priority because if you aren’t comfortable you won’t be able to enjoy what is typically the highlight for us runners’ days.
Look into the Crystal Ball
You are not going to feel the same throughout your run as you do the second you step out the door. I don’t care how many runs you’ve done, this is the most deceptive part of planning what to wear. You can be chilly stepping out into a cold morning and 10 minutes into your run be roasting hot. I can not tell you how many times this has happened to me. I then proceed to shed layers and am left trying to figure out what to do with all my clothing as I am just getting going.
To solve this you will need to learn through experience in all temperatures. Even then it is still hard and you will more likely than not need to wear something to carry some of your shedded layers. I personally wear running belt that allows me to stuff my extra shirt, buff or gloves into. A lot of people will simply tie their shirt around their waste or wear a running pack which affords much more space. The big take away is to plan the most likely temperature rise in your body.
Cool temperatures are not the only thing to worry about. As a runner you are constantly placing yourself out in nature in all season. Here in Reno Nevada we are in a high desert four season climate right next to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We get everything from high winds, extreme heat, blizzards, months of sunshine to even dense smoke from wild fires. The Reno Running Company has apparel all these conditions. However, we do recommend running indoors during poor air quality, but also recommend running outdoors the rest!
Psh! There is no such thing. Put on some sunglasses, a good sun protective shirt and a hat. Don’t forget sunscreen on all exposed skin. Many places are gray and gloomy most of the year but not Reno or Lake Tahoe! We are lucky. As a foreign exchange student in Australia I used to hear the say “Slip, Slap, Slop” in regards to the sun and still remember it today. Slip on a shirt, Slap on a cap and Slop on some sunscreen.
Never (almost). Running in snow can be some of the most fun and memorable runs you will do all year. Bundle up in synthetic layers you can shed once you get going. The most important aspect of running in snow is not slipping. We have traction devices in the store that help with this. You may also want to wear gaiters on your shoes to keep the snow out of your ankles. What about wet feet you ask? Yes, I answer. There is nothing wrong with wet feet. The heat your body generates from running will keep them warm for the most part. Learn to toughen up and embrace wet feet as you frolick in the the snow. Pro-tip: Don’t wear eyewear while it is snowing. Wear a cap to shield the snow from hitting your eyes. Glasses will simply get wet and make it hard to see.
Reno is a pretty windy city. If I decided not to run when it was windy that would cut my volume in half. Learn to embrace it the wind. For starters, a windbreaker jacket is paramount. I can not tell you how many times I’ve been running in a sheltered canyon getting hot and sweaty only to crest a ridge line and be blasted with wind. I instantly feel freezing cold. This is where I whip out the windbreaker and return to comfort. Windbreakers are great because they are super compact and light. A Buff is also a great piece of apparel to take when running in any weather. I wrap mine around my wrist when I am not using it but if the wind picks up you can slap it on like beanie or headband.
Yes, the heat can make running less fun and often shorter than maybe intended but it shouldn’t stop you from getting outside. The best option in the summer months is to try to run in the mornings. If that isn’t an option for you then dress appropriately. See Too Sunny. Many of the same guidance applys to running when it is too hot. I also recommend wear very breathable running shorts, light socks with shoes that are breathable as well. Use a hydration pack or handheld to carry fluids with you. Be mindful of you temperature and do not run too far for too long.
As you run year round you will eventually learn that choosing the proper clothing for the conditions will greatly affect your enjoyment on the trails or roads. Come in to one of our stores and on one of our associates can recommend the best apparel for the type of running you will be doing.
Written by Ben Tedore,
Sierra Endurance Sports Athlete