Now that winter is upon us, well, some of us anyway. It is time to start thinking about dark, cold, winter runs. With the exception of my weekend runs, all my runs are in the dark (which begins around 5:45pm). So running in the winter takes on a whole new wardrobe dynamic.

Here in the high desert region, at around 5800 feet above sea level, nights are cold beginning in October. Currently you can expect the night temps to be around a balmy 22 degrees (if you are lucky and there is no wind).

You have to be warm enough to last the scheduled distance but not so warm that you are shedding layers during your run.

Here are the best tips for winter running:


  1. Layers are important. All layers need to be close fitting (notice I didn’t say snug). Too loose and cold air will circulate up from the hem costing you precious body heat. First layer is never to be cotton. That is worth repeating…NEVER cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture which is the worst thing you can do when trying to stay warm. Think about technical fabrics that use terms like wicking. This means the fabric will pull the moisture away from your skin and keep you warm longer


Top layer is best if it has a zipper of some sort, one that either zips all the way or three quarters. This will allow you to cool off a little if you get too warm. Long sleeves that come down over your hands or thumb holes are helpful for keeping your hands warm and your sleeves in place. If there is wind, it is nice to have a bit of wind protection in your outer layer. Again think about technical fabrics.


  1. Tights need to be a winter weight. For colder temps under 30 degrees consider some that are fleece lined. Especially if you are battling colder winds. Sometimes I can beef up the warmth of my tights by wearing panties that are made with a wicking fabric. They help keep my bum a bit warmer.


  1. Gloves with wind protection are a bonus. Like any other running apparel item, don’t choose cotton gloves, the wind will whip right through and freeze your fingertips.



  1. You can wear either a fleece headband to keep your ears warm if the weather is cool, cold ears are the worst! If the temps are below 30 degrees, I don a hat to help keep the body heat in.


Remember you should be cool when you start your run. If you are comfortable before the run begins, you will be too warm once your run gets under way.

 Don't forget lighting. You need to be sure that cars can see you. You can help by wearing clothing with reflective tape. The market is flush with other reflective gear including reflective vests, arm bands, jackets and hats. Items with lights for better visibility for both you and the cars on the road. I wear a reflective vest and a headlamp on my night runs.





So go ahead and bundle up, and then head out and enjoy those night runs all winter long!