It was suggested to me by some readers that it might be a good idea to write a post about what to wear when running in the cold winter months, so I rose to the challenge and asked some running friends of mine for their tips and, together with my own tips, hopefully we have come up with some useful suggestions.
Between us we must have run thousands and thousands of mile. The friends that I spoke to have run marathons which include London, New York and soon to be Florence, along with half marathons which include Birmingham, the Great Parks, Stratford, Bath, Long Marston and no doubt several others.
Aside from what clothes to wear I would say that good trainers are a must. Generally trainers come up small so it’s good to try them on before buying them. Running clothing can be picked up for a snip at Primark and until you get into longer distances, really great wicking fabrics aren’t that important but from day one (I would say) that everyone needs decent trainers – not of the standards of Olympic athletes, but decent.
So what was the advice and what were the suggestions?
One friend always runs in compression clothing and in winter, that includes thermal compression clothing. She sometimes wears the leggings the day after a long run too. Her favourite brand is Skins. Beware, apparently the clothes can be tricky to get off though, particularly the tops! Having never tried them I can’t really comment but if I decided to train for a marathon I would definitely give them a go. With longer distances and colder weather, everything helps.
I wear capri length running bottoms all year round and I have a couple of GAP pairs that I really like. Something like these from GAP (£15.99) work fine for me, although I do like a splash of colour on them somewhere if possible.
Another friend said that she felt that the winter was all about layering. She has a thermal Nike Dri fit top which she loves as it’s really soft.
I always start off with a very fitted running vest top, just to keep everything in place and snug – maybe something like this from GAP (£22.95)
On top of that I wear a waterproof/windproof jacket, maybe something like this
Gore windstopper jacket (£112.49) which one of my friends absolutely swears by. I have a Reebok one bought from an outlet in Brighton about 9 years ago now for £10 and it’s brilliant. Another friend loves a jacket with detachable sleeves so that she can turn it into a gilet for those days when only core warmth is needed.
For less expensive options, H&M and as I mentioned earlier Primark, have a good selection of running gear as does Decathlon. Sports Direct has a huge choice of Karrimor running gear, which not surprisingly is made of great fabric.
As to hats, most of the girls find that they make them too hot when running but the neoprene or fleece bands are useful for adding some warmth and keeping unruly, curly, hair under control.
Lightweight gloves were suggested for looking after hands. When it’s really cold I run in leather gloves. The pain on a cold day when the feeling comes back to your fingers can be excruciating so anything that can prevent that level of cold in the first place is a must.
Oddly none of us seemed to have different socks for summer or winter running but there again the most comfortable ones are padded and quite thick anyway. One of the girls preferred the double layered ones as they prevent blisters. I picked up four pairs of running socks in GAP when they were reduced to £1.99 each and they have been just as good as some running socks which have cost me £12. After wearing proper running socks there’s no way that I could run in anything else. They are one piece of kit that, for relatively little investment, can make a huge difference.
We didn’t seem to chat about bras. I think it very much comes down to the level of support required. Some vest tops have a built in bra which will be sufficient for some. I always wear a bra too, although not a sports bra which I know I should. However I’ve never found one that I’m comfortable with. I must investigate them again but frankly I’m not sure that they’re going to rescue anything anymore! Here’s a link to technical running socks and bras for those interested.
I have one friend who is a real ninja in the Sweaty Betty sale and she picks up some great running pieces. They are really stylish and look great. I haven’t quite made it to the lofty height of SB yet, only having bought my first set of “matching” running gear last year, despite having been running on and off since the age of 15.
And one friend swears by leaving layers on her route and collecting them on her way back. Apparently no one ever steals anything from allotments!