It’s out there, looming like dark clouds packed with snow, and next Thursday, December 21, it will be here – WINTER.
Sure, we’re being overly dramatic, especially since running or walking outdoors in winter can be comfortable with the right gear.
Columbus Running Company (CRC) is the official retailer of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon. CRC apparel guru, Matt DeLeon, offers the following advice regarding running apparel for when the cooler temperatures set in:
If you are an experienced runner, there is a good chance you were once told that layering is key. It remains true – with an important modern twist. Layering is still key – but with the right apparel, more often than not, two simple layers will be just fine. Nobody wants to head out for an 8-miler wearing 10 pounds of clothing, with possible added weight due to rain or snow. The golden rule of “Less is More” reigns here.
There are several reasons to invest in great apparel - it lasts longer, works in a wide range of conditions, keeps you comfortable and safe, and will ultimately cost less than buying sub-par apparel that will wear out more quickly.
Let’s break down our layers and look at some examples.
The Base Layer. A base layer is a piece of apparel worn close to the body that can wick away moisture. You can wear a base layer by itself on moderately chilly days, or you can use it as a first layer as conditions get colder. Avoid cotton here at all costs. At the simplest level, a light, breathable polyester piece will work.
The Outer Layer. There are two important ways to look at your outer layer. First, your outer layer is your shield, there to protect you. What is your worst enemy in the winter? Surprise, it’s not snow, the Grinch, or Game of Thrones White Walkers. It’s often wind. Wind cuts through apparel and makes you cold. It’ll take any moisture you’ve built up inside and turn you into an icicle. It’ll also slow you down. You need a layer to handle all that. Second, your outer layer is a regulator. It’ll help trap some of your natural body heat to keep you insulated – but also release some of it to maintain air flow so you don’t build up too much moisture, allowing you to stay drier. The best venting will occur out your back or under your arms and will be structured in a way that air will be gently moving out more than in.
Look for outer layers that have proper wind blocking in the front. Even better if the fabric is water resistant or waterproof. Look for a small vent in the back or under the arms.
Combine JUST the two above and you’ll find yourself surprisingly warm while also light on the go. Remember, ideally you’ll feel a little chilly for the first 5-10 minutes of your run or walk. Your body will heat up quicker than you might expect, and a nice layer of warm air between layers will keep you insulated for the long haul. With that said, we’ve only covered half of you so far. Let’s not forget your legs!
Leg Coverings. Less is still more here, no need to double up. If you are a tights person, look for tights that are lined with a brushed, light fleece lining. If you plan to work out in the most extreme weather, look for tights or pants that have wind blocking panels in the front – usually over the front of the thighs. Similar thinking goes towards” jogger” pants, but get ones that taper well around the ankle, so they don’t get in the way of your feet.
Bonus Features. The best apparel also tackles other needs you may have on your run. A good piece of cold weather apparel will have places to stash things like your cell phone, keys, gels or other items while keeping them protected. Think tights with a drop-in pocket, pants with zippered pockets, and jackets with “Napoleon” pockets up front to stash things that you don’t want to bounce around.
Lastly, don’t overlook your safety! Please get something with reflective properties. Even hats and gloves come with features offering reflective and wind-blocking properties. Going beyond apparel, a light-up reflective vest ensures that drivers see you on the run while super bright LED headlamps will light the path ahead of you.
To sum it all up - as you begin to gear up for a great fall and winter of outdoor miles, look for quality over quantity. Find a couple of great pieces that are extremely functional, provide great comfort, and will last a long time and you’ll be happier for more miles than ever before.