To Short or Too Short? Winter Running Gear


I get confused at this time of the year. Admittedly, it’s not the only time of the year that I get confused, but there is a certain moment at this time of year which seems to possess the power to baffle me like few others.

I’m talking clothes. I’m not very good on clothes most of the time anyway but when autumn decides that it wants to become winter but winter is not yet fully ready to commit to being winter, I am left desperately balancing on a beam that I was never very adept at walking on in the first place. I am that person who gets it wrong every. single. time. Oh, it’s raining outside and sounds windy… winter must be here… winter coats, scarf, hat, gloves, yes, I’ve got this. Ten minutes later as I’m walking to work, the sun comes out, no one else around me is wearing a coat but looking oh so autumn with a nice scarf casually draped across the shoulders, while I am sweating bullets under layers of winter warmth. Winter is coming, my foot.

Likewise, when I try to be “cool”, like the socially adept, scarf-wearing marvels above, and go light with the layers, I end up bloody freezing while everyone else on the streets… yep, you guessed it… are all snug in their warm coats. Ugh.

Running wear poses a similar challenge. Get it wrong and you could either be freezing cold, wet and trying to hide icicle fingers, or roasted hot and desperately uncomfortable (picture turkey feeling the heat rise as the door closes on the oven). Either scenario has the potential to dominate your run and make you miserable. Just ask the turkey.

Getting the balance of your winter running wear right takes practice and I find that it’s very much a personal thing. Some people really don’t like to feel the cold at all, while for others, their preference is to try to avoid over-heating as much as possible. Other things to keep in mind are what type of run you intend doing – if it’s going to be an easy or a long run, you’ll probably be a bit cooler than you would be on say a tempo or interval workout. Similarly, if it’s snowing or raining, you’ll need a hat because the wet will make you colder, quicker and you don’t want to get sick either. I hate wearing hats when I run because it feels like it’s sealing in all the heat and my head can’t breathe but I do it when I have to so if I can do it, you can do it. Suck it up.

My summer running gear? Light, loose short shorts (not a technical term) like Nike Split 2.5 “, a sleeveless (preferably slightly loose) top, sports bra, 1000 mile socks and running shoes, duh.

Summer time!
Summer time!

Autumn running gear? Still in shorts, cuz I love em… long sleeve light t-shirt, a light running jacket (waterproof/wind resistant) and a baseball cap if it’s raining. Don’t think I need to point out that socks and runners are still here too.

Autumn sleeves. Getting colder...
Autumn sleeves. Getting colder…

Winter running gear? Depending on how cold it is, I WILL wear running shorts if it’s mild enough simply because I hate running tights. However, I understand that they have their purpose – they not only keep your legs warmer than shorts, but they also stimulate blood flow, create heat and prevent cramping in the colder weather. But once the temperatures drop below 5 degrees celsius (ish), it’s time for tights. Running tights (full length), warmer socks, a thin long sleeve base layer, a lighter loose long sleeve t-shirt and a light running jacket if it’s snowing/raining. Oh, and the shoes. Don’t forget those.

Winter gear + imagine the tights!
Winter gear + imagine the tights!

Depending on how cold it is, I might add another long sleeve half-zip top (eg. a Nike Element Half-Zip) or a light fleece outer layer over my t-shirt. Bear in mind that if it’s windy, the wind will cut through your layers and you’ll feel the cold a lot more so you might want that extra layer on such days.

Layers + light running jacket help keep me warm and the wet out.
Layers + light running jacket help keep me warm and the wet out.

It’s important that your base layer is made of a moisture wicking fabric so that it wicks the sweat away from your body and prevents you getting cold, wet and inviting in hypothermia.

Warm outer hat for colder weather.
Warm outer hat for colder weather.

Also important are a hat, gloves and a neck gaiter, again depending on how cold it is. A moisture wicking skull cap is a good investment and you pop a thermal hat on over this.  There are gazillions of different types of running gloves out there and I have spent hours (admittedly enjoyable!) in sports shops choosing between different gloves. You’ll probably want a few different pairs of different thickness for different types of weather. It’s worth buying decent running gloves because you will wear them all the time and realistically, you’re looking at using them for up to 5 months (November-March) so you are going to get great wear out of them. It’s also a long time for your hands to be unhappy if the gloves are cheap and miserable. Don’t be like those gloves 🙂

These are my lighter running gloves. Love em.
These are my lighter running gloves. Love em.

Day temperatures here this week have fluctuated from 8 degrees celsius to 14, with stormy winds and heavy rain showers, intermittently. With the weather still undecided, apparently, dressing for runs is an ongoing challenge. But unlike my daywear, I’m optimistic that I’m gradually getting better at working out my running gear.

Best of luck!

What are you wearing at the moment for your runs?

Do you find it hard to get the cold/ warm balance right?



6 thoughts on “To Short or Too Short? Winter Running Gear

  1. I do the same. I’m such a cold creature and freeze so easily, which makes me think before I leave the house, that I need more layers but after 5 mins, I can’t stand the heat…the layers start to come off and all of sudden I’m carrying all this stuff…ugh, a vicious circle!


  2. When I lived in NJ I always started out cold but ended up hot in the winters. Layering helps but you don’t want too many. Right now in CA, the weather is perfect (50’s-60’s). I am perfectly fine in a t-shirt and shorts, or sometimes a long sleeve if windy.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.