With winter rapidly approaching and some feeling it may already be here, for many of us it means months of training in the cold to continue to reach our goals. If you’re going to be outside for hours on end, having the right gear is key. So let’s take a look into some essentials designed to help you endure the elements while you’re training.
Hat and gloves: While it’s a myth that you lose most of your body heat through your head, it certainly helps to wear a hat. Your ears will stay warmer and your overall comfort level will improve dramatically. The same could be said for gloves. Is there anything worse than numb fingers? Hats and gloves need to be light and comfortable. Avoid itchy materials like wool. Look for hats and gloves that are breathable and moisture wicking. They will dry faster and keep you warm in the long haul, plus they can be a bit lower maintenance for washing.
Bottom layer: One of the keys to warmth is to have the appropriate top and bottom layers. Your bottom layer should be moisture wicking. Your goal is to pull all that moisture away from your body to keep yourself dry and effectively keep yourself warm. Find a fitted long sleeve and you’ll keep the cold and moisture off your skin.
Top layer: Your top layer is a light jacket that essentially serves as a shell. It should be designed to block the wind and hold some warm air inside and trap your body heat. Ideally pick one with a mesh interior to allow the sweat to escape a bit and make sure you have plenty of pockets to hold essentials. It adds to convenience. And try to find one with vents, because sometimes you’ll over prepare and need the ability to cool off.
Compression pants can save you on a cold day. They keep your legs warm and the blood flowing, but also help you avoid the annoying itching that cold can cause on your skin. A nice bonus is they can aid in recovery so you won’t be as sore the day after a tough workout. Please note that some compression pants are designed for cold weather and others for hot conditions, so factor that into your decision. Not all compressions are created equal.
Face covering: Many companies make breathable face covers similar to gaiters but a bit lighter. They protect your cheeks and nose from the cold and snow while allowing proper airflow. You can often find these referred to as “wrags.” The convenience is you can wear them around your neck when you’re hot and pull them up over your face securely when your need to warm your face.
Shoes: Picking shoes for winter training can be tough. You need something that’s comfortable, keeps your feet warm and dry, but also a shoe that can maintain quality traction. Look for a shoe that not only dries quickly and doesn’t retain much water, but also a shoe with a lug pattern on the bottom that is capable of handling snow, ice, mud and more, in addition to just pavement. That shoe will not only be warm but will also help keep you safe. The proper tread will allow you to run without fear of slipping and pulling a muscle or taking a nasty spill. And you’ll find that the added control it provides will give you a little extra confidence while running and boost your desire to get out there and train in the colder months.
Take your time and do your research. Pick the items that are right for you. If you have the right gear, a little cold and a little snow won’t get in your way. Training outdoors won’t be quite as miserable and you’ll give yourself the opportunity to come out of the winter fit and ready for a strong spring.