The Secret To Exercising When It's Cold Out

Photographed by Geordy Pearson.
The thrill of the NYC Marathon has passed, leaving runners with chilly weather and no excitement. But, if outdoor running is your jam, there's no reason to spend the next six months battling the treadmill crowds just to run in place for an hour in a climate-controlled gym. No, you don’t have to overhaul your wardrobe to stay warm on outdoor runs, nor do you need to toss on five shirts, three leggings, and a pair of shorts for good measure. Instead, just layer smartly. The biggest mistake you can make is dressing so warmly that you risk overheating once you start moving.
There are three main layers to keep in mind for fall and winter running: base, middle, and shell (outer). Your base layer should be made of moisture-wicking material to help pull the sweat away from your skin. Your mid-layer should focus on trapping heat in — making fleece a favorite option. The shell layer will be what takes a beating from the elements, whether wind, rain, snow, or sleet, so look for options that are waterproof. If it’s above freezing, you may be able to ditch the mid-layer and opt for a long-sleeved shirt and an outer shell. The team at Runner's World magazine put together a helpful tool that determines exactly what pieces you should wear based on factors such as temperature, intensity of your run, and time of day.
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As Miranda Webster, sales specialist at REI’s Soho store, reminds us: Never ignore your ears, ankles, and wrists. Wear tall socks to add an extra layer for your shins under your tights. If running in the cold makes your breathing labored, try wearing a scarf around your nose and mouth, Jason Karp, PhD, (fitness expert and running coach for Run-Fit ) tells us. And, if you’re running while it’s dark out, don’t forget to wear reflective pieces to keep you safe and spotted.
Now, you can make your cold-weather runs a little more enjoyable — one layer at a time.
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