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Winter Running Gear Must Have's

Well, fall is officially over at least here in the Midwest. There was a good 2 weeks of crisp fall weather and then we smacked right into winter.

Now I guess I shouldn't complain too much because the snow hasn't gotten insane like last year.

Mind you, this was on a good day. So, I figured it was time to pull out my winter running gear. Last year was my first time dealing with below  freezing running conditions, which meant struggling to find the right gear. Thus, I will share with you all my favorite gear finds and must have's to survive the grueling winter running months.

I also like to start from the head down which means covering your head to stay warm. You can lose a lot of heat from your head if not protected properly. Since most of us ladies put our hair up, we have to find gear that can accommodate a pony tail. 

I am a huge fan of Moving Comfort winter headwear. Not only does it come in a variety of colors but it has a built in pony tail hole. Now I know many have issues with the hat slipping off, and if you have thick hair like me, it happens quite frequently. I also stick a few bobby pins through the pony tail hole attaching my hair to the beanie. Also, this beanie has 40+ SPF which is great because cold weather doesn't always mean cloudless. In the picture above, I am wearing a 2012 beanie which I found on clearance last spring.

I love neck gaiters! I really do. Last season, I found a Lululemon Brisk Run Neck Warmer which I can now only find on Ebay. I found a picture of the same style just in pink instead of black (I am wearing something similar in the picture above). One of the things I enjoy most is that it doesn't feel claustrophobic. It has a nifty pull string which can allow for a tighter/looser fit. Normally, I start out my runs with it covering 85% of my face. Then I have the flexibility to pull it down and still protect my neck from the cold. I haven't tried another brand, but I would suggest sticking to neck warmers/gaiters made with wicking material. 

Invest in a compression base layer. Seriously, this is your best friend during winter. I personally prefer a thin moisture wicking turtle neck, the one I am currently wearing is the Lululemon Run Swiftly Turtleneck. I am a fan of digging through the sales racks at the end of the season to find a decently priced running shirt. I love this type of shirt because you can add light layers as needed. Plus, if you can find one, invest in thumb-holes! This one over at Target is under $20, which is a steal!

The "middle layer" as I call it, can be a grab bag. I have hoarded every Under Armour Long Sleeve shirt I can find. The colors are great and they add another warmth element without making you feel like a marshmallow. Now I know some prefer to stick with the winter lining shirts, but I sweat profusely so this style works for me. What I love most is that the price is always right and you can find them at any local sporting goods stores. Can't go wrong with fun colors at an amazing price, right?

Now, one of my favorites for the winter is the "top layer". This is a great way to style up a fun training outfit or some race gear. 
The top layer for me is always a nice wind resistant jacket. I LOVE these jackets because you can always find something relatively inexpensive. These two are from Target #1 and #2, I personally own #2 and wear it out and about when not running as well. I want to stress, I don't always prefer jackets while racing but I have seen many tie their jackets around hydration belts. Great idea if you tend to heat up quite a bit during a race.

Last but certainly not least is the trusty winter tights. I have tried quite a few but found my favorites in the Nike Pro Hyperwarm Fitted Compression Tights and the Reebok Printed Performance Leggings. First, what I love about the Nike tights is that they don't dig into my waistline to stay up. They have a comfortable compression lining that doesn't feel bulky. Also, the stitching on the pants mean no chaffing when you are running in that dry winter air. WIN! 

The Reebok leggings are little different but just as comfy. What drew me to these leggings was the wider waist band. I absolutely hate pants/capris/shorts that dig into your waist line. First off it is uncomfortable and not flattering at all. This band falls at your natural waist and does not require any adjustment during a run. Also, they come in a wide variety of fun colors and styles. I love them both and they keep me warm during that below freezing wind gust. 

Now for some accessories...

The JustRight Glove from Moving Comfort is amazing! They have a band around the wrist which means minimal adjusting. They actually fit your hands so you don’t feel like you are wearing ski gloves. Plus you can text/call/take photos while they are on because of the Tech-tipped thumb and index finger. 

Be seen! Seriously, the winter months are dark, people are sleepy leading to not necessarily seeing that runner in the morning or at night. My spouse was happy to buy me a Brooks Nightlife Reflective Vest. One of the few purchases where money was no object, so it was a welcomed gift. I have worn this vest during the summer, as well, because it is light enough and doesn’t irritate during a run. The straps on the side are Velcro and can be adjusted to however lose/tight you prefer. Such a great and simple way to stay safe out on the busy streets.

I know so many of you have heard the praises of Pro Comression Marathon Socks but I will tell you they are terrific for winter running. I have almost every (literally) color and style which have always treated me well. They are fantastic at improving circulation resulting in a more consistent performance. Plus under some tights/leggings keep the legs nice a warm. 

Hydration is important in all seasons. Thus, I went searching for a hand held water bottle. I found the Nathan's TorchLight QuickDraw Plus to be the best for my purposes. The one part that sold me was the 3M reflective strap for increased visibility. Again, better to be seen and stay safe. Another incentive was the large zipper pocket for my driver’s license/debit card/fuel/tissues/cell phone. I have literally added it all in there and it comfortably fit. 

Since moving to a new town away from family and friends, my spouse is big on me staying safe out on the roads. Not only for running but for travel, we invested in some RoadID's. The main selling point was being able to list my penicillin allergy. If anything were to happen (knock on wood) the RoadID gives vital information to first responders.  

Last, but certainly not least, for those of you who sometimes fear taking on the snow. The YakTrax Run are great additions to your running shoes. These simply attach to the bottom of your shoes to improve traction on the snow. You can run naturally on packed snow and ice with the removable spikes and steel coils. If I am being honest, I still take it slow on the ice but these definitely give me better confidence to take my training outside. 

Well, I think I have shared more than enough winter gear to last a lifetime. Again, these are products that have worked for me and that I prefer. Please feel free to share your experiences or other products that we can all benefit from.

Also, a great article that talks about cold weather running, How Cold Weather Impacts Your Running. It gives a great review of what happens to your body in cold weather, hydration, and safety. Check it out and spread the word. 

Have some safe winter running all! 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! This seriously helped me in finding a gift for my brothers girlfriend who is a runner, loves pink, and lives in Chicago. :)