Written by Chris Jones and Karen Kovacs —
Frigid winter temperatures offer enough deterrent for recreational runners to seek shelter on indoor tracks at the gym and treadmills. But what if you’re a die-hard? While facing the chill of the Old Man Winter against your skin may feel refreshing, you’ll want to play it smart and ensure that your body is protected from the elements. Here are a few key products that you can slip on to help keep you logging the miles despite the conditions.
Technical socks wick sweat away from your feet, which allows your feet to stay dry and cool and prevent issues, like blisters and hot spots. Socks designed for running will be more durable and have a more tailored, snug fit to prevent them from slipping. “Choosing socks becomes a matter of preference. Wicking socks are good; synthetic socks are warmer. But cotton socks hold moisture and that affects running,” says Jim Elder of Colonial Sports in Williamsburg, Va.
Wear These: Twin City, Wright
Wearing tights are essential in keeping legs and muscles warm during the cold running months. “You have cold weather and regular—which are worn for three seasons. If it’s below 30 degrees you’ll want cold weather tights. Keep in mind that these are unlined, which keeps them light and help to keep you from overheating,” says Elder.
Wear These (Cold): Under Armor, Sport Hill
Wear These (Regular): Thorlos
Wear the wrong shirt and your run can turn cold and unpleasant fast. “The biggest thing is to stay dry,” says Mark Manny of Running, Etc., in Virginia Beach, Va. “Avoid cotton. Wicking types of fabric pull moisture from the body. If you stay dry, you stay warm.”
Wear These: Asics Thermopolis Light
On days when the temperature dips below 40 degrees, a jacket becomes necessary for keeping the body warm and protecting against the crispness of the air. Materials and thickness vary. “Jackets keep the wind chill off of you so you’ll want something that breathes,” Manny shares. “Choose a thickness based on your comfort level.”
Wear These: Asics Storm Shelter
The thought of wearing gloves while running may seem restrictive, but there are models that keep hands warm while wicking away the moisture that overheats them. “Since it’s damper in this area, you only need a light to medium glove. If you have poor circulation, go thicker, even possibly to a mitten so the fingers can keep each other warm. It depends on how much you heat up,” states Mark Manny of Running, Etc. in Virginia Beach, Va.
Wear These: Asics Thermopolis (poor circulation), Nike Lightweight or Saucony Ultimate
A popular trend for protecting ears is ear bands. For men, caps help keep the head warm during cold runs. “Earbands are popular among women because of their long hair,” says Manny. For women, they allow the hair to be drawn back into a ponytail and keep the head from overheating.
Wear These: Saucony Drylete Ponytail (for women), Saucony Drylete Cap (for men)
Foam Roller, The Stick or Orb Massage Ball
These products help work out muscle tightness and trigger points in the quads, hamstrings and even low back. Andrea Lehmkuhler from Point 2 Running Company in Newport News, Va., says that “may help prevent some of the more serious injuries that result from muscle tension when it is ignored.”
Wear These: Trigger Point, The Stick,Pro-Tec Athletics Watches
Finally, for that extra special runner who is really into mileage, pace, training and race performance, consider splurging on a Garmin Forerunner. It’s like having a coach in your watch. The wrist computer has a color touch screen and offers, among other things, a race time predictor and VO2 max estimate. It measures distance and pace and some models record heart rate.