How to Dress for Winter Running, from Head to Toe

Boston’s runners are a hardy bunch. Regardless of the weather, runners are always hitting the pavement and putting in work, living up to their Boston Strong mantra.

Boston may be strong, but Boston is not always warm. Hitting the road and putting in a few miles each day can get chilly as the temperatures begin to drop. Here are head-to-toe clothing tips to have the most successful runs in the most brutal conditions.

Train on, turkey-trotters, train on.

Top of your head

Mom was right when she told you to wear a hat. Stay clear of that one she knit you, though. Hats should be made of lightweight technical fabrics to trap just the right amount of heat, but still keep your head dry.



If you are really anti-hat, at least wear a thermal headband or ear warmers. If you listen to music while you run, sometimes the cold air-flow between your earbuds can cause pain in your inner ear. Headbands are a great way to eliminate that.


Try to start your run into the wind and end it with the wind at your back. No one wants that chill attacking their sweaty face. Rub on Bodyglide or Vaseline pre-run to prevent frostbite.


In weather 20 degrees or below, you may want to consider wrapping a scarf around your mouth or buying an active-wear facemask. The cold air can cause an extreme burning feeling in your throat and lungs. Don’t worry, you aren’t damaging your lungs. This happens because there is lack of humidity in the air during the winter, according to Fleet Feet Sports. That lack of humidity combined with probable dehydration irritates cells in your trachea. Wearing a scarf or mask increases the humidity of the air you are breathing—and reduces that burn.

Upper body


To plan your running attire, dress as if it is 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature outside. For example, if it’s 30 degrees, you’ll probably wear two top layers: one thin thermal and a light jacket. You’ll feel a little cold when you start running, but you’ll soon warm up. Avoid cotton at all cost because it soaks up sweat, leaving you cold and wet. As for style? Rock those fluorescent colors or reflective gear. With daylight savings coming to an end, darkness (and danger) is around the corner. Make yourself as visible as possible.


Your hands are the first parts to get cold on a run, so keep the blood flowing by clenching and unclenching your fists during your run. Gloves made of technical material are a must to keep your hands dry. Touchscreen gloves even let you operate your smartphone.

Lower body

Same rule of dressing for temperatures 10–20 degrees warmer still applies here. The best way to wear multiple layers on your bottom half is to wear your running pants over a layer of full-length spandex or running tights.



Choosing your shoes will depend on the weather. If it is cold and dry, wear thick athletic socks to keep your feet warm and wick away wetness. If it is cold and wet, however, try to choose shoes with the least amount of mesh, to keep warmth in and slush out. If you’re still concerned about wet feet, put your stocking feet in plastic bags and then put on your running shoes. If your shoes still get wet, make sure you have another pair, and rotate between the two every day. Give one pair the chance to dry out completely. Stuffing your shoes with dry newspaper helps to soak up the moisture.

After your run,

Change out of all your wet clothes immediately (that goes for sports bras, too). If your hair is wet, either grab your blowdryer or put on a dry hat.

Hydration is important regardless of the season, but drink something warm in colder weather. According to Runner’s World, a study suggests that post-run drinks with caffeine and carbs rebuilt glycogen stores by 66 percent more than those with only carbs. So grab a coffee and enjoy that post-run buzz.


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