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VERIFIED CONTENTAuthor: Maciej Szukała

The winter months are a big challenge for many runners. Especially beginners wonder if it is worth running at all when temperatures are below zero. How to dress for winter running? What to do to keep your outdoor activities from catching a cold, but to be associated with pleasure?

Many runners consider winter to be the most attractive time of the year to run. Beautiful, snow-covered forests, omnipresent peace and quiet allow you to break away from everyday life. Although this is not the optimal time to break speed records, it is perfect for building an oxygen base. Winter months do not have to mean a break from training. You just need to dress and equip it well, and you can handle any trail.

Which parts of the body freeze the fastest?

The basic mistake most beginner runners make is to maximize thermal protection of the body, arms and legs. Contrary to appearances, however, these parts of the body will freeze last. If you move, your body produces a lot of heat because your muscles generate energy (the more muscle you have, the heat you will produce).

The head, hands and feet get cold the most and you should take care of them above all.

Remember not to dress too warm

The golden rule says that you should feel a little chilly when you leave the house. This way you compensate for the generated heat and you don't overheat. If at the very beginning of the run you feel that you are starting to overheat, after a dozen or so minutes of jogging you will start to sweat profusely. Even good thermoactive clothing will not keep up with wicking moisture on a cold day, and you risk chilling and cooling down your body.

When is heat too warm? Different sources give different data. You'll find yourself dressed as if it's 10 degrees Celsius more outside than it really is, and with a 15-degree limit. Test a few options and find the one that works best for you.

Wear several layers of clothes

Two or three layers of light clothing will be much better than one thick sweatshirt. This is the popular layering. This way you canbetter manage the body's thermals, and if necessary, take off or put on a layer of thermo-active underwear.

Especially for trail running, it is worth taking a light backpack with you, in which you keep an extra long-sleeved T-shirt or a second jacket.

In practice, in severe frosts, three layers of clothes are most often used:

  • thermoactive underwear (the so-called first layer), the task of which is to transport moisture away from the body,
  • insulating clothing (the so-called second layer), which is designed to maintain the correct temperature conditions,
  • a third layer of protection that protects against rain, snow or wind.

Many people also limit themselves to one sweatshirt and a thicker jacket (omitting the second layer). In this case, however, you need to choose the outer garment carefully. Running softshells that are warm, weatherproof and flexible at the same time will be expensive!

What should you wear while running in winter?

You will find many different types of clothing at jogging stores. A wide selection can be intimidating at first. We will help you choose a complete winter training outfit.


Although the claim that as much as 70% of heat is lost through the head is a myth, the latest research still shows values ​​in the order of 10%. It is still a lot, so a warm hat is a must. When the temperature is around zero degrees Celsius, an ordinary acrylic headgear is enough.

Extremely low temperatures are the time to reach for woolen hats. Those made of merino sheep wool are extremely warm and soft, and at the same time light. In extreme conditions, it is also worth reaching for balaclavas, which, in addition to the head, also protect the face.

If you do not like hats, then down to -2-3 ° C you can also use a bandana or buffa, i.e. a multifunctional scarf. You should also have them with you in your pocket in case the ambient temperature suddenly drops.


Thermoactive running gloves look inconspicuous. They are thin and flexible, but nevertheless they can provide thermal comfort in the greatest frosts. Pay attention to the size adjustment - well-chosen running gloves should reach behind the wrist so as not to leave the strip of skin exposed below the cuff of a sweatshirt or jacket.

You can choose between ordinary gloves made of thermo-active yarn, waterproof and windproof models, it is a very individual matter. It is important that they are warm enough, although in extremely frosty weather there are two pairs put on top of each other.The fabric shouldn't be too thick either, as tying the shoelace will be a challenge.

It's also worth choosing gloves that are compatible with your smartphone in case you need to call for help during training.


The running socks should fit your feet like a second skin. They must not pinch, chafe or shift while moving as they will cause blisters. On sale you will find special socks for athletes that adapt to the shape of the foot.

As for the material, it is worth equipping yourself with socks with the addition of wool for the winter. As in the case of gloves, the optimal solution may be two pairs of socks. High knee socks also work well. If you plan on running in the field, you can also consider buying socks with a waterproof membrane. Although they are much more expensive than traditional ones, they will provide comfort while traversing unpaved routes.

In the case of membranes, however, you must be aware that this is not a perfect solution. They don't let moisture in, but they're also poor at letting it out. As a result, the foot may sweat and blur. What's more, moisture may enter the sock from the top (unless you are using gaiters), and then no membrane will help.


For winter, definitely choose leggings with long legs. Leave the short ones and ¾ for the warmer months. Gaiters should be adjusted so that they do not restrict movement under the knees and in the hips. The models intended for the cold season are definitely dominated by:

  • polyamide,
  • polypropylene,
  • Specially treated acrylic fibers.

Many manufacturers use heavyweight fabrics in their winter clothing and add special windproof panels. Socks with Gore-Tex have also become popular abroad, but in Poland they are still difficult to buy.


When buying a sweatshirt, first of all choose models with long sleeves, tightly fitting to the body and made in a seamless technology. Some models have special extensions built into the cuffs to protect the wrist and hand.

It is important that the jogging sweatshirt reaches a little lower than the waist. This way, you protect the lower back from cooling down in case the fabric collapses during the run.

In winter, a high collar with a stand-up collar is also useful, unless you are using a buff. This way, it is easier to protect your throat from the wind.

Running jacket

Winter running jackets should be primarily windproof and to some extent waterproof (not necessarilycompletely so as not to accelerate the body overheating). Make sure the jacket is cut with full range of shoulder motion.

When it comes to technological solutions, additionally taped seams that keep moisture out and a partial zipper (not full-length) work well. This way the jacket protects against wind better and is lighter.

It's important that your running jacket has 2 or 3 pockets where you can reach comfortably without stopping or undoing the harness of your vest or jogging backpack, if you are using one. You can hide energy gels, tissues or a small headlamp there.

They are looking for a jacket, you can opt for a simpler solution. If you don't want to buy thick clothes, you can buy a thinner windbreaker and supplement them with base layers. Much depends on how much and where you run and how quickly you freeze. Each piece of clothing is best tested by long, 1.5-2 hours long runs in the field, where you cannot hide from the wind or snow.

Not only clothes - essential accessories for winter running

Although the correct selection of winter running clothes is extremely important, it is worth remembering a few more issues that will make running in winter easier.

Use anti-frost cream

During particularly severe frosts, it is worth using anti-frostbite cream and applying it to your face before going outside. The combination of gusty wind, cold and snowfall will make the skin on the face dry and crack very quickly without additional protection.

Although it may seem to be too much precaution, increased sweating during exercise causes water molecules to instantly turn into crystals in severe frost, which break the top layer of the epidermis apart. This way you can protect yourself from the unpleasant effects of frostbite.

Take care of the temperature of the drinks

If you take a vest with a water bag with you for long runs, make sure that the liquid in the tank is as warm as possible. Many models of hydration systems allow you to put on a special cover for a bladder and a tube that supplies water to the mouthpiece. As a result, the temperature of the fluid drops slower.

In winter, tanks that allow you to pour hot water into them are also perfect. Some manufacturers declare the durability of their products up to a temperature of 60 ° C. This is enough to prevent the liquid from becoming ice cold even during a long run in severe frost.

Is it worth wearing gaiters?

Some runners who train inin winter, puts on waterproof gaiters (many models of shoes, especially trail shoes, also have special hooks for easy installation of the gaiter). These are special protectors that prevent water, snow, pebbles, leaves and mud from getting inside the shoe. In addition, they also protect the upper part of the upper against mechanical damage.

Gaiters are in the form of a profiled piece of material and they work especially well during off-road runs. They stick to the shoes thanks to the drawstrings or fastenings in the upper part and elastic bands or straps that are threaded under the shoe. They are worth wearing especially when you expect slushy mud or deep snow on the trail.

When will you use the opening credits?

Headlamps are intended primarily for those runners who train in the early morning or after sunset and choose routes located outside the city, where street lighting will not help them.

Today's headlamp models do not resemble the crude models from several years ago. Most of them can be easily put in a jacket pocket. The individual models differ mainly from each other:

  • power source (batteries or rechargeable battery),
  • operating time (from several to several dozen hours),
  • brightness (from several dozen to even over 5,000 lumens),
  • width of the light beam,
  • available operating modes (several levels of intensity, emergency red light, strobe mode),
  • degree of waterproof (standard is IPX5).

In individual models you will find patented technologies, such as reactive light, which automatically adjusts the lighting power to the distance from the object, or the ability to program an individual work program in a mobile application. The most advanced models of head lamps can also be used for cycling - they are mounted on a helmet, steering wheel or frame of a two-wheeler.

The most advanced models of head lamps can also be used for cycling - they are mounted on a helmet, handlebars or frame of a two-wheeler.

Remember that at very low temperatures the working time of electronic equipment (watch, but also headlamps) is reduced! Always plan your route so that you can go home before the battery runs out.

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